Dungeons & Dragons Online

I think this player is homebrewing some bullsh*t, need advice

I'm running a short adventure (5-6 sessions) for a group that usually plays with another DM (who is taking a break and playing in said short adventure). The adventure is set at Level 6 for all PCs. One of the players has proposed an Artificer/Rogue multiclass which is all fine, but he's proposed some weird mechanics that I, as an inexperienced DM, am not quite sure about.

Here's the proposed mechanic, in his own words:

Here’s my pitch, Lucky has proficiency with glassblowing gear and calligraphy gear, as well as alchemist supplies. So during a long rest (or in preparation to a long adventure) he could tinker to create small glass blubs which he would fill with gunpowder and a triggering device to cause a flame and ignite the powder. In a practical way he could work up a flint so that when the glass breaks it creates a spark, or another option would be to use his calligraphy tools to paint/etch a rune containing a firebolt cantrip into the glass, which triggers when the glass breaks, causing the explosion. I’m not saying these should cause huge amounts of damage, but for comparison right now a firebolt cantrip for a 5th level character is 2D10 fire damage and a Powder Horn when it explodes does 3D6 damage to anything within 10 feet. So a fire bolt cantrip is more powerful, but targeted, whereas a the powder horn is an AoE attack. Also for reference, a Powder Keg causes 7D6 fire damage to everything within 10 feet.

This could be balanced by limiting the amount of supplies (obviously not a huge number of powder kegs), but if we’re being sent in by a secret government agency, I would think they’d be willing to fork over plenty of gunpowder so Lucky could build his own bombs.

He also suggested that the above ammunition would be fired using a sling shot.

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My immediate response was, "This feels OP to me and for such a short adventure I don't really want to try to figure out the balance of something as heavily homebrewed as this. But if you want to make it work then I guess you can, but the damage output can't be that high considering you're playing a utility class and not pure damage". I suggested that his slingshots could instead do something like 1d4 piercing + 1d8 explosive damage, and the latter triggered a DEX save first.

To which I did not get a response so I thought the matter was settled.

However, three sessions in, he used the mechanic but with some added bullshit. For his action, he cast Catapult on one of his Powder Horns, and expected 3d8 (Catapult bludgeoning damage) + 3d6 (Powder Horn explosion damage) as the output. For the sake of flow, I allowed it – the action was an attempt to break a steel shutter open, not in combat, and I didn't want to get into an argument over homebrewed mechanics when the session only had about 10 minutes to go.

However:

  1. He ignored my response to his homebrew "pitch" and went ahead with what he wanted anyway.
  2. Getting the damage output of a spell plus an exploding powder horn in a single action, guaranteed (DEX save only halves it) every time he does it, seems OP to me.
  3. I checked the PCs inventory (yay DNDBeyond Campaign functionality) and he is carrying 20 pounds of Power Horns… as a part of 150 pounds of total weight. PC should be heavily encumbered but he'd turned encumberance off. So he's handwaved what should be a severe penalty (PCs travelled for two weeks through the desert by foot with all their kit so this should have had an effect.)
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So I'm looking for advice with (a) how to approach this with the player and (b) balancing the action he's trying to make a core mechanic of his character.

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