Modern Combat

Chivalry Is Dead

This is not bemoaning the fact that no one holds the door open, or even lacks the common courtesy to tell you that you have a huge piece of spinach stuck in your teeth.  No, this is to tell you that “honorable” combat is dead.  No longer are the days where knights met in single combat, sword and shield and skill-at-arms determining the winner an loser. No, now you just stand back and push a button.

Okay, it’s not that simple, but like in our world, melee combat is not as important as it was.  That is not to say that it doesn’t exist, nor that people don’t train in it anymore.  Instead, firearms and ranged combat are the dominant form of combat.

Note: These rules only apply to DnD 5e and Pathfinder 1e (archived).  The Cypher System already accounts for modern combat and these rules do not apply.

Rules for Firearms

Though effective, firearms are no more effective than a bow. Also, like all ranged weapons, Dex is used to hit and as a bonus to damage as well. The Dex bonus to damage only applies if it is fired in SS or SA mode, or an “aimed shot”. Though you do aim with Burst or Full Auto, the recoil of the weapon keeps you from placing the shots as precisely as you would with single shot or semi-automatic shots.

Unlike a bow, however, all firearms are considered Bludgeoning (weapons). This does not mean that you run up a beat someone with a firearm as you would a club (though you could if you wanted). Instead, it represents that it is the kinetic energy of the bullet that does the damage and harm and not necessarily the bullet itself. Additionally, it comes into play with the new Armor rules.

Rate of Fire (ROF)

All firearms have a rate of fire (listed under ROF on the Firearms/Modern Weapons charts, Pathfinder here, 5e here). Each ROF has a few different rules detailed below.

Single Shot (SS)

This is one shot per round. This is either because it takes time to reload after the shot or time to aim (as in the case of sniper rifles). Firing a weapon that is listed as SS will take a full-round action, but this includes reloading/cocking/chambering the next round. On the player’s next turn they may fire once again.

Semi-Automatic (SA)

This is one shot per attack. If the character has multiple attacks per round due to dual-wield or high attack bonus, they may fire a SA weapon the same number of times. This is treated exactly as a bow.

Burst Fire (BF)

This is a three-round burst. It takes a full-round action normally. You have the opportunity to do it a number of times per round as your allowed attacks (for Pathfinder, determined by your high BAB. For 5e, determined by how many attacks are granted by your class).  In either system, due to recoil, any follow up bursts suffer penalties.  The first burst is done at your highest bonus.  The second suffers a -4 to hit.  Each additional one suffers an additional -4 (so -8 on the 3rd, -12 on the 4th, etc).  All the same, if you hit, you have the opportunity of all 3 bullets hitting, thus possibly tripling the damage. Here’s how it works.

First, roll to hit. If you hit, you get at least 1 shot that hits. If you rolled below a 15 (natural) on the die, roll 1d6. 1, 2, or 3, and one extra bullet hits. Roll damage for 2 shots. 4, 5, or 6, and all 3 shots hit. Roll damage for 3 shots. If you roll above a 15 (natural, no modifiers, just a 15 or higher on the d20), then all 3 shots hit automatically.  This is repeated for each burst that hits.  If you miss, because you’re crazy and decided to roll it despite the -12, or you just miss in general, none of the bullets hit.

Full Auto (FA)

Like Burst Fire, but more bullets and solved differently. First, as with BF, it is a full round action, but you have 3 options. You must declare which one you will do before you roll.

Suppressing Fire: With this, you wildly spray an area hoping to hit anything that comes into it or to keep things from moving into (or out of) that area.   Roll to hit normally and remember your number.  Then, go ahead and roll damage.  That number will be compared to all creatures or enemies in that area.  If that number beats that creature’s or enemy’s AC, you hit that enemy or creature and they take the damage you rolled, if it didn’t it missed.  You can affect 2 areas:  a cone in front of you 20 ft wide extending to the first range increment of the weapon, or a 30 ft diameter area that is below you and up to your weapon’s first range increment away from you.  If you roll a critical hit (standard Pathfinder or 5e rules) you hit all enemies in the area, but do not do extra damage.  Regular damage applies to all enemies.
Sustained Fire: or more affectionately known as Rip-a-clip. With this, you unload your weapon on a single target. This takes 3 focused rounds. On round 1, you roll normally, but wait until the end of the round to apply damage.  If you take no damage by the end of the round, you do max weapon damage.  If you are interrupted, the target takes normal weapon damage.  On round 2, same thing.  If you hit and are not interrupted by the end of the 2nd round, the target takes max weapon damage x 2.  If you were interrupted on this round, roll normal damage.  On round 3, repeat.  If you hit and are not interrupted by the end of the 3rd round, you do max weapon damage x 4.  Now you reload and all reload rules apply (see below).

There are 3 weapons, the MMG, HMG, and the Mini-Gun, that have higher rates of fire for Full Auto.  Rip-a-clip is slightly different. Basically, you’re not going to empty 100 rounds in one standard action. So, instead you empty 50. Rolling for each round is the same, but the multipliers are higher, so x4, x6, and x8 and you only use 50 of your total Mag instead of emptying it completely.

Likewise, you can simulate this using semi-automatic weapons.  Essentially, you’re pulling the trigger as fast as you can.  It’s close, but it’s not the same, so to provide Suppressing Fire with a Semi-Automatic (SA) weapon, the same rules apply but you’re at a -4 to hit.  Also, with Sustained Fire, it is the same, but the damage is max damage first round, max damage x2 second round, and max damage x3 for the third round.

You cannot move during a Sustained Fire action unless you have Shot on the Run (Pathfinder).  In 5e, since you can move an attack normally without a feat, you are instead at disadvantage on your rolls unless you have Improved Tactical Training, then you incur no disadvantage.

Reload Times

Reloading a weapon is standard regardless of weapon, save for Heavy Weapons. For Pistols, SMGs, and Rifles, ejecting and replacing a clip is a Standard Action (1 round). If you have the feat Rapid Reload (Pathfinder), though it is normally for crossbows, or Improved Tactical Training (5e), you can reduce reload time to a Move Action.

Because of the varying ammunition of Heavy Weapons, they have slightly different reload times. If it has only 1 for Mag, the reload time is 2 standard actions (2 rounds). If it has 2 for the mag, it is doubled. If it has “(D)” next to it, meaning a drum magazine, it takes 2 Standard Actions (2 rounds) to reload, but can benefit from the feat Rapid Reload and be reduced to 1 Standard Action (1 round). Rocket and grenade launchers cannot benefit from the feat Rapid Reload.


Modern firearms are created using highly machine precision instruments, yet they are made up of multi moving parts. That and other factors such as the weapon being dropped or hit, old or degraded shells, lack of or improper cleaning and handling, the elements and such can lead to a misfire.

When attacking with a modern ranged firearm a roll of a natural 1 causes a misfire. That in itself is no big deal, it just means the shot did not happen but it could also mean a jammed weapon. Like when you roll a second time on a critical to confirm the hit you do the same on a misfire. If your second roll would hit the target your gun simply failed to fire. No ammunition is expended on a standard misfire your attack just didn’t happen. However if your confirmation roll is a MISS, then the weapon has Jammed.

Jammed Weapon

If your weapon has becoming jammed you must spend an attack action to unjam it and the ammunition from the attack is lost. Besides bullets this includes, grenades, rockets, missiles, etc.

Broken Weapon

If you are so unlucky as to actually roll a natural one a second time on a misfire confirmation the weapon breaks gaining the broken condition until fixed.


Tactics play an important role in combat of any era, but in the modern era cover is incredibly important because you can’t dodge bullets (under normal circumstances anyway).  This means you can fire from any cover up to 75% cover.  All normal cover rules apply.  You can fire from higher percentages of cover as a fire-and-duck move which takes a move action.

Standard cover rules apply, meaning if you roll below the cover percentage on a percentage roll, you hit the cover, not the target.  All the same, it is up to you to find cover.

Below are a handful of charts for hardness of environmental cover.  Thickness is  only for reference.  The break DC is the DC on a Strength check to break the wall/door.  Hit points, are just that, the HP of the material.  Each time the cover is hit, regardless of hardness damage reduced (see below), the cover takes full damage and is subtracted from the total.

Hardness is special.  It is the amount of damage subtracted from the overall damage of a bullet passing through that material.  If the hardness reduces the that damage to 0, then whoever is behind it takes no damage.   Whatever damage remains is the damage the target takes.


Concrete 3 ft. 45 15 540
Plastic 5 in. 25 8 75
Steel 3 in. 30 20 90
Unworked stone 5 ft. 65 15 900
Wooden 6 in. 20 5 60

*Per 10ft x 10ft secion


Wooden 1-1/2 in. 5 15
Plastic 2 in. 8 30
Stone 4 in. 15 60
Steel 2 in. 20 60
Airlock door 4 in. 35 160

Hardness and HP by Materials

Glass 1 1
Cloth, paper, or rope 0 2
Ice 0 3
Leather or hide 3 5
Wood 5 10
Plastic 8 15
Ceramic 10 10
Transparent aluminum 10 15
Stone or concrete 15 15
Iron or steel 20 30
Adamantine alloy 30 40
Nanocarbon 35 60
Polycarbon plate 45 60
Pure adamantine 50 80