|Aelryinth RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16|
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Later-era plate armors pretty much stopped all but the heaviest crossbows and all bows cold. You didn't kill a knight with a longbow unless you got him in the eyeslit...the armor was just that good. Even a near point-blank shot would just leave a dent.
Heavy crossbows that had to be cranked up to fire were made SPECIFICALLY so they could punch heavy plate armors, but it wasn't until you actually got bullets that armor was overcome.
The 'fast' way of cocking a heavier crossbow was a belt-hook. You just lowered the crossbow, and lets its own weight help you as pushed down on the hook, slapping a new bolt in at the time.
Yes, a crossbow should have a strength rating. It is perfectly likely that you'll have a team with one crossbow person cocking and reloading the weapon, and one person with skill shooting it. That's the reason they don't put Str ratings on crossbows...they don't want 18 dex snipers benefiting from 18 Str quiverbearers swapping weapons.
Extremely strong crossbows might require a stirrup in addition to a belt hook.
Massively strong crossbows that took a winch were definitely later era armor-punchers, and quite unwieldy to use as a result. They were just shy of the Siege Crossbows that required a stand to use, or a footbow that was drawn back with two hands and propped against your feet.
Bows were good against lighter armored troops. But it is notable that at the battle of Hastings, the charging knights were not killed by longbow arrows. They were killed because the mud floundered their horses, and infantry basically dragged them off their mounts and killed them by stabbing them through their visors.