Firearms: A Primer

This page is intended as a relatively comprehensive guide to firearms in the world of House Games. There are lots of lists of weapons, and lots of stats attached to those weapons, but never fear! We've included an explanation as to what each and every statistic refers to, and from what we derived it.

A quick note on our design philosophy before we get started: there are an almost infinite number of different factors and variables which can be used to differentiate firearms from each other. Further complicating matters, definitions vary from country to country - not to mention the age-old conflict between the metric system and the patriotic-but-foolish system of measurement used in the good ol' USA - making a simple categorization for guns difficult to pin down. All this is to say that we've done our best, but you will inevitably find something here (maybe a lot of somethings) which doesn't jive with your own probably superior understanding of the way guns work in the real world.

Creating effective game systems is a matter of properly balancing simulation and summation; that is, we want to mimic real life as much as possible, but not at the expense of the story. Accordingly, many things are simplified, and a some edge cases have been left out entirely. For the most part, we feel that this system keeps things relatively real while still enabling players to tell the story they want to tell without needing to understand the weight in grains of their ammo load. For some, this may be somewhat disappointing, but the beauty of the House Games system is that you can feel free to make changes to this core system within your own cell at your discretion. If you prefer to design a more elaborate damage system which takes into account different kinds of accelerants and whether or not a cartridge is full metal jacket, go for it. And please, never hesitate to message one of the mods if you have an idea or concern; argue your case well and we'll probably update the core system to address it.

Firearm Basics

House Games are a high-octane thrill ride, often despite the GM's contrary intentions. And like any good action movie, there are lots and lots of gunfights that break out. After all, the Yakuza aren't gonna defend themselves with swords in this day and age, and you've got no choice but to break into their headquarters and steal documentation which can identify their mole in the FBI. The old cliche is right: you've gotta shoot a few eggs to make an omelette.

In order to simulate this in a fair way, we've assigned numerical values to certain crucial functions of a gun. Most weapon stats in House Games come from three different factors: the type of gun (basically, whether it's a handgun or a rifle), the action, and the size of the ammo cartridge. In particular, these three things determine the number of dice which are used to roll for damage, the difficulty of the attack roll, and the number of shots fired per turn (meaning the speed at which you'll run out of ammunition). There are also generic values for the range, ammo capacity, and size of each weapon type, but those can vary based on the individual weapon. A quick list of generic gun stats is on the Equipment page. This page will go into detail about the rationale behind the various gun stats, as well as providing a relatively comprehensive list of guns and their specific stat variations.


First, for the firearm novice, what exactly is meant by "action" here? Simply put, action refers to the mechanism by which the gun handles ammunition, and thus how fast it can fire. There are two general types of action, manual and automatic. Manual action means that when you pull the trigger, all it does is fire a bullet, and you are required to take a particular action to deal with the old cartridge and chamber a new one; for example, the M1903 Springfield, a classic rifle used in World War 1, is a bolt action rifle, and to chamber a new cartridge you have to pull a bolt which is placed along the barrel of the rifle.

Automatic action, on the other hand, means that all you have to do is pull the trigger; the cartridges chamber themselves automatically. The mechanism behind this varies somewhat, but the only important distinction here is between fully automatic and semi-automatic rates of fire. A fully automatic weapon will fire continuously so long as the trigger is depressed, while a semi-automatic weapon requires a pull of the trigger for each shot (or burst of shots in some cases).

The vast majority of modern firearms are semi-automatic weapons. With a few exceptions, fully automatic fire is only legally available to members of the military, though obviously there are illegal means of obtaining such weapons. Manual action weapons are still manufactured, but are less common; for the most part, modern manual action guns are either hunting rifles or shotguns. Some revolvers are still designed as manual action as an homage to the famous and still popular weapons of the American Frontier.


Modern firearms, with the exception of shotguns, generally use cartridge-based ammunition. Much of the time in pop culture the word "bullet" is used to refer to a cartridge, but this is not technically correct: a bullet is the metal projectile which is shot out of the gun, and is contained inside the cartridge, which is the (typically) metal casing that contains the bullet, a (typically) powder-based propellant, and a primer which ignites the powder upon being struck by the firing mechanism. The terminology is less important than understanding how cartridges work, however, so don't worry if you wanna keep calling them bullets.

Cartridges are named using a caliber number; however, this is not always a totally accurate depiction of the dimensions of the cartridge. "Caliber" correctly refers to the approximate internal diameter of the barrel of a gun, and while the number found in a cartridge name is generally fairly close to corresponding caliber, it should not be taken as an accurate reflection of the size of the cartridge. For instance, the .380 ACP cartridge and the .357 SIG cartridge both have an actual diameter of 0.355 inches, or 9mm. In this case, the terminology is somewhat important, because guns can't shoot if the cartridge is the wrong size, so be sure to know that .380 ACP is a .355 caliber cartridge.

In House Games, cartridges are divided into three groups: Class A, Class B, and Class C cartridges:

  • Class A cartridges include light handgun ammo and intermediate rifle cartridges, and the caliber is generally less than 7mm (.30 in).
  • Class B cartridges include standard handgun ammo and full-power rifle cartridges, and the caliber is generally between 7 and 10mm (.30 to .40 in).
  • Class C cartridges are the heavy hitters: think Desert Eagles and anti-materiel sniper rifles. The caliber is generally greater than 10mm (.40 in).

The groups roughly break down by size, but it's not exact. A number of 6mm rifle cartridges are in Class B, for instance, while .32 ACP cartridges (which have a 7.65 mm diameter) are down in Class A, as they are fairly underpowered for their size. Most cartridges are listed below, for reference.


Shotguns, on the other hand, can use a variety of different types of ammo but typically use either shells or slugs. A shell is a casing, typically plastic, which contains a number of small metal balls known as "shot". The two most common varieties are birdshot, which are smaller balls, and buckshot, which are larger. A slug, on the other hand, is a single large metal projectile.

Shotgun ammo is generally referred to by it's "gauge", called "bore" in the UK, which is a somewhat odd means of calculating the internal barrel diameter: basically, gauge is calculated by determining first the weight of a ball of pure lead which would fit inside the barrel, and then calculating how many of those balls would be needed to make a pound of lead. So if you have a 12 gauge shotgun, a pure lead ball which fits in the barrel would weigh 1/12th of a pound. The important thing to remember is that with gauges, smaller numbers equal bigger ammunition.

By far the most popular shotgun used today is the 12-gauge, with 10-gauge and 20-gauge guns also seeing semi-frequent use. 10-gauge shotguns are considered Class C, 12-gauge shotguns are considered Class B, and 20-gauge shotguns are considered Class A.

Attacking and Damage

Now it's time to get aggressive! If you haven't already read the Combat page, it's worth a look to get an idea of the general flow of a fight. If you're short on time, the key points are that House Games uses a turn-based combat system that proceeds in 3 second increments, referred to as "rounds", with each player taking an action during a round. All the actions in a round occur roughly at the same time in the in-game universe; the turn order represents slight difference in reflexes, which can often mean the difference between life and death.

Attacks with firearms are done using Dexterity + Firearms as a dice pool. Base difficulty for the attack depends on the weapon type and the action. The following table illustrates base difficulties for each weapon type.

Weapon Type Standard (Semi-auto) and Full Auto Manual Action/Single Shot
Handguns (except Light Revolvers), Machine Guns, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles 8 7
Rifles (except Sniper Rifles) and Light Revolvers 7 6

If the attack is successful, you'll roll for damage, using a number of dice based on your weapon's base damage and factoring in the number of successes on the attack roll. The following table shows the damage dice pool for each class of ammo:

Class Standard (Semi-auto) Manual Action/Single Shot Full Auto
A 4 + Successes 2 + Successes Successes x2
B 6 + Successes 3 + Successes Successes x3
C 8 + Successes 4 + Successes Successes x4

By default, an attack with a firearm in House Games is an all-out attack; that is, the attacker will utilize the semi-automatic capabilities of their weapon and fire multiple shots per round, aimed at the center mass of their target. The rate of fire is listed on the Combat page. However, semi-automatic weapons may be used to fire only a single shot in a round of combat; to do so, use the Manual Action statistics for your particular gun type and ammo, or simply subtract 1 from the difficulty and cut the base damage in half.

Weapon Charts

And now for the fun part: charts and tables! There are a staggering number of guns available for use in the world, and we've made pages for you to look at Firearms by Weapon Type, or Firearms by Geographic Region.

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