Folks like to handwave certain aspects of play. Whether it’s spell components or encumbrance or prerequisites for multiclassing, it’s often easier to sweep those inconvenient rules under the rug. But today we’ve got a trickier beast in our crosshairs, and Ima be honest with you guys: I’m not sure what “a better way” might look like.

The problem with ammo is that it’s an obvious counterbalance for ranged characters. You certainly can stand in the back and plunk away. But the minute you run out of arrows you’re just an underpowered fighter. I think we can all agree that’s an uncomfortable situation for a ranged PC. But even if you do have a bandolier of infinite ammo, you’ve got to figure out how to get Bullet A into Gun B. That generally requires free hands; provokes attacks; interrupts your action economy; uses special equipment; etc. etc. From a game designer’s perspective, overcoming these restrictions is the cost of putting a lot of lead in the air.

Over in Pathfinder I’ve seen players respond to this challenge in a number of creative ways. I’m talking about tieflings reloading with prehensile tails, racoons trained as artillery familiars, and mutated alchemists straight out of Afro Samurai tossing cartridges around with a third arm. The 5e version seems to be an endless procession of dudes asking 1) whether the Repeating Shot infusion interacts with Matt Mercer’s Gunslinger firearms, and 2) if crossbow expert let’s you dual-wield hand crossbows. (No doubt today’s comments will light up with folks eager to tell the world the one true way it’s supposed to work.) Even my favorite minis game has reload issues, with folks house ruling that you can just count your spent pistol as a club so that you don’t have to switch between weapons.

From all of the above, I deduce that gamers like blasting away with two guns. They just want clear rules explaining how they can achieve that. And so, for today’s discussion, I ask you mechanically-inclined folk this question: What are you favorite reloading rules? Do you like a clearly-defined “you can fire X times per round,” or do you relish the challenge of finding builds that can squeeze off multiple shots? Let’s hear all about your own gunslinging exploits down in the comments!

 

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