Wednesday, 2 June 2010


So, my rules set is going to include bows.  Back to the weapons board.

Be it resolved that no D&D rule set really gets the English longbow right.

There's no magic trick to bows, short, long, composite or cross. Each mechanical advance is just a better way to store up arm strength and release it. The strength comes out as damage, penetration and - especially when arched into the air - range. Crossbows build up strength over time through slower loading.

Two arrows per round, even a six second round, is a really good deal but probably reflects the shooter not having to worry about defense. The tradeoff is having to worry about range minuses.

Range minuses "to hit" for any bow start at 20 feet and are -2 for every whole or part of 50 feet (the bow's range unit) thereafter.

Normal bows are 2 arrows per round, 1d6.

You can have a bow custom built for your strength at three times the price. It'll have +20 feet to its range unit per strength "plus". You get one point of your Strength "to hit" bonus for every three or more points of armor on the target (not counting shield) and +1 damage maximum. So if you're entitled to a +2 "to hit" from a 16 Strength, you get no bonus to hit vs. someone with leather armor or a shield; +1 vs. someone in chain; +2 vs. someone in plate.

That's your English longbow - a whole company of specially exercised Strength 13+ archers with matching bows. You can't just pick one up in the thaler store.

Light crossbows are 1 bolt per round, 1d6+1, range unit 70 feet, +1 to hit a target with 3 or more points of armor. Heavy crossbows are 1 bolt per 2 rounds, 1d6+2, range unit 100 feet, +1 to hit a target per 3 points of armor. They're bows with Strength bonuses built in.

I like it when magic-users can have crossbows (shout out to Basic!) They're suitably technical and weaselly weapons.


  1. I read once in a source I can't recall(perhaps it was an Osprey military book?) that an English longbowman could fire an arrow ever six seconds, so there's that bit of unsourced historical information. ;)

  2. Thanks Trey. In doing more digging I have found similar stats for rate of fire, and also noticed all the 2 shots/round systems in D&D and clones are based on a 1 minute round.

    So 1 shot/round for bows, slower for crossbows, would be more realistic and mechanically easier (for example, would not complicate the move-missile-melee-magic sequence).