Eldritch Excursion – Red Dead Runelord

Readers who are familiar with my recent works know that I’m a fan of diving head first into controversial topics to see just how much fun I can get out of playing it to the hilt. In fact, I like to go far past the hilt and over the hand, past the wrist and straight down the sword arm of the man I’m dueling. In a duel of metaphors, of course, of which I’ve already won. Because the pen is mightier than the sword, and I take my pen to the gym several times a week.


I mean, he doesn’t lift any weights, but I’m stealing their equipment for a different kind of ‘body building.’


And speaking of mechanical monstrosities, it’s safe to say that the one thing that gets people’s opinion holes flapping just as much as alignment is the inclusion of guns in their fantasy roleplaying game. Or the general balance of guns. Or if guns where a mistake. And back in the day, boy howdy was it ever. Imagine a character that can hit your endgame boss on a natural 2 with his seventh stacking attack in the round.

Hello and welcome to Eldritch Excursion, the blog that used to have a bullet with your name on it until I realized that addressing them “to whom it may concern” was just as effective and takes much less work. And while I normally discuss intersections of flavor and mechanics, I’m going to lean big on the mechanics this go-around because I’ve had an idea floating around in my head for some time and I might as well do something with it. I’m here to put the magic back into guns by homebrewing the guns into magic.


Many experiments have been conducted to find ways to enhance the accuracy of magic with the potency of runes in order to bridge the gap between trained warriors and scholarly acolytes. While the results have varied, the experience of the magi proves that channeling spells through weapons is one of the most effective methods. One such weapon is the runegun.
Runeguns operate in a fashion similar to a staff in the hands of a caster; The wielder prepares it by channeling their magic into it and casts spells by aiming the runegun and activating the spell. As runeguns are designed to ‘fire’ magic, they must be created with spells that target a line, a cone, a burst, or require an attack roll.
While they do not function as actual firearms, a craftsman can still etch fundamental weapon runes onto a runegun to enhance its capabilities. A weapon potency rune grants its item bonus to all attack rolls made by any spells cast with the runegun, but it does not apply on any attack roll that does not target Armor Class. A striking rune amplifies your spells. When you cast a spell that consumes at least one charge from the runegun, if the spell deals damage and doesn’t have a duration, you gain a status bonus to that spell’s damage equal to half of the spell’s level. If you have a greater striking rune, it instead deals damage equal to the spell’s level. If you have a major striking rune, it deals damage equal to one and a half times the spell’s level.


Degenerator Runegun                     Item 4+

[Magical] [Necromancy] [Runegun] [Uncommon]
Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk 1

Writhing tendrils emerge from this runegun’s base and coil around a stout barrel that ends in what looks like a toothy maw. The wielder can allow the runegun to feed off of their blood as well as their magic; once per day, you may cast a spell from the runegun without using any charges, but you gain the drained 2 condition.
Activate Cast a spell; Effect You spend a number of charges from the runegun to cast a spell from its list

Type Degenerator Mk I; Level 4; Price 90g
Cantrip acid splash
1st grim tendrils

Type Degenerator Mk II; Level 8; Price 470g
2nd acid arrow, grim tendrils
3rd grim tendrils, stinking cloud

Type Degenerator Mk III; Level 12; Price 1,800g
4th acid arrow, grim tendrils
5th cloudkill, grim tendrils

Type Degenerator Mk IV; Level 16; Price 9,200g
6th acid arrow, grim tendrils, vampiric exsanguination
7th grim tendrils, vampiric exsanguination


Peacekeeper Runegun                     Item 4+

[Conjuration] [Magical] [Runegun] [Uncommon]
Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk 1

This glittering, blunderbuss shaped runegun is favored by lawmen and bounty hunters for their ability to incapacitate without dealing serious harm. The butt of this gun is padded and heavy, allowing the wielder to treat it as a staff that also has the nonlethal trait. Fundamental runes apply to these melee attacks as normal.
Activate Cast a spell; Effect You spend a number of charges from the runegun to cast a spell from its list

Type Peacekeeper Mk I; Level 4; Price 90g
Cantrip tanglefoot
1st color spray

Type Peacekeeper Mk II; Level 8; Price 470g
2nd color spray, web
3rd color spray, hypnotic pattern

Type Peacekeeper Mk III; Level 12; Price 1,800g
4th color spray, web
5th black tentacles, color spray

Type Peacekeeper Mk IV; Level 16; Price 9,200g
6th color spray, vibrant pattern
7th color spray, forceful hand (replacing Manipulate or Attack with Grasp)


Apprentice Runegun                     Item 2

[Transmutation] [Magical] [Runegun] [Uncommon]
Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk 1L

These compact, elegant weapons ensure that their owners are never out of options. If you have the ability to gain a familiar, you may choose this gun as your familiar. It gains the ability to transform into a single animal form or its runegun form. This is a one action activity with the transmutation and polymorph traits and it counts as a familiar ability. It cannot use familiar abilities in runegun form, and cannot be fired while in familiar form.
Activate Cast a spell; Effect You activate the runegun cast a spell from its list

Type Apprentice Runegun; Level 4; Price 30g
Cantrip produce flame, ray of frost


You wouldn’t know by looking, but she’s dual wielding cats.


It is also possible to use the rules for custom staff creation and custom craft your own firearm, including the restrictions stated above. Feel free to let your creativity loose when making its design. Perhaps it looks like a gun so ridiculously over-designed that it could only work through magic, or maybe it only vaguely resembles a gun in use. Go nuts and have fun!

So, what do you think of these? Interested in adding some long & load to your staves & sorcery? Let me know in the comments. Come back next time and I’ll explain why the secret to building an evil empire is living on a diet made up exclusively of rats.

Nate Wright

Hey there. I'm Nate Wright, author of the Eldritch Excursion blog. I'm also a credited freelance author on several releases from Paizo. When I'm not scooping up my thoughts and slapping them onto your feed like so much delicious ice cream, I can be found on social media where I retweet pixel art and talk about how great summoners are.