It looks like guns are becoming a bigger deal in D&D with the new rulebooks

Two characters battle robots in artwork from D&D Quests from the Infinite Staircase
(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Judging by the 2024 Player's Handbook, guns are going to be a bigger part of D&D going forward.

Publisher Wizards of the Coast showed off pages from the new core rulebooks in a press briefing earlier this June, and a lot was made about their accessibility. That carries over to a Target-style catalog of D&D items readers can purchase, including weapons… but it seems there's been a surprise addition to that lineup since the last edition. While the usual swords, daggers, and bows you'd expect take pride of place, guns (specifically muskets and flintlock pistols) also appear in the martial ranged weapons section. This is in direct contrast to previous versions of the Player's Handbook, where firearms were reserved for the Dungeon Master's Guide or campaign settings like Spelljammer.

Here's the page in question.

Dungeons & Dragons weapons from the 2024 Player's Handbook

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

While this doesn't necessarily mean we're in for a black powder revolution in D&D settings going forward (and I assume they'll be reserved for worlds known for having muskets already), spotlighting these firearms in what's arguably an entry-point to the best tabletop RPGs is an interesting choice. Dungeons & Dragons has clung to its medieval trappings with a degree of fierceness before now, and black powder weapons were very much an addendum to be used at the Dungeon Master's discretion. But by including them front and center in what will be so many players' intro to D&D, the new Player's Handbook is giving them much more legitimacy.

Now, I should clarify that we haven't seen the accompanying text for this section yet. There could be a note saying that guns aren't common in most universes, or to check in with your Dungeon Master (DM) first before equipping one. Plus, they are incredibly expensive for low-level characters. A musket is 500 gold pieces while a flintlock pistol will set you back 250 gold pieces, for example. Yet shining a spotlight on them will almost certainly lead to requests for these weapons from players, particularly those new to the game. How could it not? If you're flicking through the book to find cool gear you can equip or buy at an in-game store, why wouldn't you assume guns are widely available? They're displayed front and center, after all.

This could be deliberate, of course; we might be seeing the introduction of guns to worlds like the Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk, or a slight advancement in the timeline to accommodate. The latter has certainly happened after previous updates. However, prior fifth edition adventures being compatible with the new D&D rulebooks makes that idea less likely. 

Instead, I'd bet on them being mentioned as a "include them in your game if you want, here are some rules" scenario due to D&D's renewed focus on the multiverse. Although OG setting Greyhawk is getting a lot of love in the new Player's Handbook, it generally divides attention between D&D's many worlds. Some of them include guns for sure, so maybe that's the logic behind their inclusion now?

I did ask publisher Wizards of the Coast what this all meant, but have yet to hear back from them. When or if I do, I'll let you know.

You can take a look for yourself when the 2024 Player's Handbook arrives this September 17. 

To see what you should play in the meantime, take a look at our guide to the best D&D books and the best board games.

Benjamin Abbott
Tabletop & Merch Editor

As the site's Tabletop & Merch Editor, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to the latest Lego news. I've been writing about games in one form or another since 2012, and can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.