[RPG] Player character wants a gun in a prehistoric campaign. What to do


Brief description of my campaign:

  • Takes place ~1000 years after creation
  • Bronze Age for most of the world, some parts are beginning the Iron Age
  • Dinosaurs and Fae are still relatively common in the material plane.
  • The most advanced city-states are magically advanced instead of technologically advanced.

I am a new DM just starting on worldbuilding for this campaign. So that's already a relatively big spike in difficulty for me. I've been a player on and off for a couple years now so I'm not completely new to DnD. My friend has been my only DM during that time and he'll be a player in my campaign.
I've told him what I listed above with a bit more detail for feedback so he knows the type of setting I'm going for.

He wants to play an artificial human who uses swords and guns via Mercer's Gunslinger class, and he wants his backstory tied to some kind of mafia he's tried to cut ties with.

It seems like he's been wanting to play a shadowrun styled campaign for a long time and the character he wants to play just feels completely out of place in my campaign.

The gun is the main problem. Balance for a gun isn't an issue; I'm confident we could figure that part out, but thematically it just feels wrong the more I flesh out this world. I honestly don't think even crossbows would be a thing let alone flintlock. We've been working out some kind of arcane pistol that shoots aetherial crystalline projectiles that dissipate after a time, but at that point it's essentially a wand with gunslinger mechanics. Besides that it feels a bit Star Wars-ish to me and that's not the theme I'm going for.

An artificial human brings to mind an android which is off the table, but I could work out some sort of magical origin, but most likely he'd just be created from some sort of god because to create new complex life at this stage would require godlike abilities and knowledge.

And then the mafia thing is when I realized that perhaps my campaign just wasn't what he's looking for. There will be occasional bandits here and there but organized crime isn't really a thing yet. If anything it'd be a cult in his backstory rather than bandits or crime syndicates.

I've told him we should be able to figure it out, because I really do want him to have fun playing whatever he wants, but he's told me he's been wanting to play this character for awhile which makes me think he's really just wanting to play in a completely different setting. The more I work on my world the more it just seems completely out of place to have a character like that in it.

I'm tempted to say he needs to come up with something else entirely. What should I do?

Best Answer

You are the DM, you can say No, although "No, but ..." also works

You are not required to change your world to accommodate a single player. What are the other players creating, as characters?

Saying yes to the android theme is workable

For the "android" theme, consider making the PC a construct; it is a creature type in D&D 5e. While it's a matter of homebrew, you can work on this together with your player using the Warforged1 from the Eberron UA as a starting point. This homebrew needs to be a collaborative effort; you get the final say since it needs to fit into your campaign world. (Perhaps a permanent curse/magical effect happened around the time of the character's birth?)

  • Your player is an experienced DM; the work on this homebrew won't be a burden on you; that said, you need to do the final check on the homebrew to make it fit into your world so that it's not overpowered, nor unbalanced, compared to other PCs.

You two can have some fun creating this homebrew race. If you don't want to do the gunslinger class, then suggest to the player (perhaps) a hand-crossbow using character who takes the crossbow expert feat as your world's version of handguns.

Thanks to extensive practice with the crossbow, you gain the following benefits:

  1. You ignore the loading quality of crossbows with which you are proficient.
  2. Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.
  3. When you use the Attack action and attack with a one handed weapon, you can use a bonus action to attack with a hand crossbow you are holding. (PHB p. 165, w/errata correction).

The "mafia" connection can be a trade guild, merchants' syndicate, a thieves' guild, a druid conclave working to roll back the overbuilding in certain areas, or a cult run by a Trickery cleric (or a Warlock) who is trying to slowly wrest power from a wizard's conclave. They sky is the limit regarding secretive and criminal organizations.

If you say "No guns" stick to your (no) guns ... :)

Your player appears to want to play in a different campaign than you are running. That happens sometimes. Ask him to create a character that fits your campaign. Your player's character needs to fit in with all of the other characters in the campaign that are being played by the other players. Making this a joint homebrew project can be rewarding for you both, and fun, as long as the party fits together well enough.

D&D 5e's basic model is that of a team of adventurers. Does this player want to be part of the team or not? You both need to clear that up before the adventures start. Likewise, he needs to discuss that with the other players.

"No, but..." becomes "no to the guns but yes to the android theme"

1 From the UA Eberron

Although they are constructs, they have much in common with living creatures, including emotions and social bonds, and perhaps even souls.

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength and Constitution scores increase by 1.
Size. Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Composite Plating. Your construction incorporates wood and metal, granting you a +1 bonus to Armor Class.
Living Construct. Even though you were constructed, you are a living creature. You are immune to disease. You do not need to eat or breathe, but you can ingest food and drink if you wish. Instead of sleeping, you enter an inactive state for 4 hours each day. You do not dream in this state.

It's a good place to start. Also, since this answer was written, the Warforged become an officially published class in the Eberron: Rising from the Last War setting book.