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Heavy Crossbows: They still suck?


Advice

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Is there any advantage to picking those, except added reach and barely greater damage? Anyone will prefer making 1d8 damage twice than make 1d10 damage once. The reload time is horrible, and using rapid reload with a light crossbow makes it about three times more efficient than a heavy crossbow.

Grand Lodge

GroovyTaxi wrote:
Is there any advantage to picking those, except added reach and barely greater damage? Anyone will prefer making 1d8 damage twice than make 1d10 damage once. The reload time is horrible, and using rapid reload with a light crossbow makes it about three times more efficient than a heavy crossbow.

Unless you carry 10 of them already loaded...

Yeah they still suck.


Unless you do this.


"This" being filling the crossbow with pixies?


Crossbows are, by and large, a Wizard's side-arm. Heavy crossbow included; odds are a Wizard has no intention of shooting twice, and only plans to shoot even once in very rare circumstances, so it works well enough towards that end. Though I prefer a bag of tricks so'st I can throw small animals into the fray.


Inquisitor, heavy repeating crossbow. Good stuff. Next level my dwarven Inquisitor of Abadar is crafting one (or buying one if the DM says it's available) with a really loud pump-action mechanism. I'm going to call it "Lawbringer". Now if I can only find a floppy hat and some chaw...

Zo


Heavy crossbows exist to give light crossbows something to feel good about. I think there's a Dex to damage feat somewhere which might make light crossbows kind of useful, but the heavy crossbow seems like a dud except as a fire and forget weapon for low level folks.

I've long thought it might be interesting to make crossbows all do 1d8 base damage and have their own Str rating separate from the user. If you had a crossbow stronger than you then you'd need a special mechanism to load it. You could load one up to +4 Str with two move actions and one up to +8 Str with four move actions. Rapid Reload would make it take half as long (or no time at all for a "+0" crossbow). Trained soldiers with Rapid Reload and Str 18 arbalests which do 1d8+4 would suddenly be pretty menacing. Maybe the iconic Ranger would finally have a good reason to carry his crossbow...probably not though...

I doubt we'll see changes to the crossbow itself. Maybe a feat which makes heavy crossbows (and or guns) work better with the Vital Strike chain could be in order though.


A feat chain that made heavy crossbows worthwhile would be awesome. Actually, I think there should be feat chains for a lot of the esoteric weapons that otherwise see no use.

Ken

Grand Lodge

My best use with a heavy crossbow was to have one each in gloves of storing, loaded (GM ruled it stays loaded...I have had other rule otherwise). Also GM ruled it as free actions to bring them out so I snap my fingers, get two heavy crossbows loaded in each hand, shoot with my TWF and drop, then quickdraw my melee weapons. It was kinda cool...if somewhat expensive to do something cool with heavy crossbows :P .


My sorceress bard carries around a loaded heavy crossbow as her first strike. She'll usually take one shot with it, then switch to other attacks/actions. In one battle she had her unseen servant reload it for her, and so was able to potentially use it every other round, while still doing something else on the rounds she was not using it.


What would the penalty be for using a Large Heavy crossbow be for a Medium Creature? Just the -2 for wrong size? -6 for not being able to use two hands? It is an interesting though.


-2. Why can't hands be used?

*edit* aaah, you mean firing with one hand? Then yeh, -6.

Taldor

Dorje Sylas wrote:
What would the penalty be for using a Large Heavy crossbow be for a Medium Creature? Just the -2 for wrong size? -6 for not being able to use two hands? It is an interesting though.

The heavy crossbow's description makes it equivalent to a one-handed weapon. When you look at the weapon sizes entry it follows that a medium sized creature using a large sized one-handed weapon is like having a two-handed weapon. Thus, yeah, you could run around with a large sized heavy crossbow. You'd have a -2 to hit with it because it is the wrong size, but doing 1d12 damage. You would need to use two hands to fire the weapon because it would be a "two handed" equivalent weapon. There wouldn't be any higher penalty for trying to fire it with one hand, it would just be an either/or situation.

But I agree that the crossbows mechanics have a lot to be desired. Looking over the 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder SRDs the weapon hasn't changed in all the years in any real manner. I doubt it is because the weapon is very satisfying, but rather, like a lot of 3.0s legacy, sheer momentum keeps pulling the anemic mechanic along.

The heavy crossbow really ought to be getting compared with a composite longbow with a strength +4 pull. The heavy crossbow does 1d10 (5.5 average damage) while the composite strength bow is doing 1d8+4 (8.5 average damage).

The mechanics ought to have been something more along the lines of using the winch to slowly pull back the strength of the crossbow. Make the strength pull of the heavy crossbow go up to +5, and have a move action needed per strength point to get it prepped for fire, with the ammunition loading be a free action like any bow. Finally set the weapons damage at 1d6. That way you get potentially 1d6+5 (which averages out to 8.5 damage).

Rapid Reload would lower the rate of cranking the winch, perhaps allowing swift actions to also be used to crank the winch. Further, if you had a bit of gear (special belt, extra plug in lever, etc.) with you that helped with crossbow loading, it could further knock off a move action of load time. That way the techie/gearhead association with the weapon would be further emphasized.

The precedent for a heavy crossbow doing a higher minimum damage goes back to AD&D when a heavy crossbow bolt did 1d6+1 damage, versus a bow's 1d6 damage.

What I find weird, is that someone in 3.0 design had this grand idea of people running around with multiple heavy crossbows, ready to fire two at a time as if they were pistols on a pirate movie. That "cool" imagery was still-born as soon as it had been published, and the dead momentum has carried it along for a decade to us today. If only there had been a public beta of 3.0, so much of the game would likely have nailed things right the first time.


Oh well. I guess I'll still have to explain new players that the heavy crossbow sucks, even though it's more expensive.


A crossbow that allowed you to take advantage of strength the same way as a composite bow (the strength needed to wind the taunt winch) would be good. Perhaps for balance, it could ignore X points of DR? That would mathematically have the same effect, but limit it to DR creatures... offsetting the higher damage. Just a thought.

Osirion

In the CotCT Player's guide is the feat Crossbow Mastery p.10 .

Allows you to reload crossbows as a free action.


Take a light crossbow (1D8, one handed) upgrade it to a large light crossbow (2d6, 2 hands) it has the same reload time as the light crossbow and it does better damage than the heavy. Problem solved.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Bhrymm wrote:

In the CotCT Player's guide is the feat Crossbow Mastery p.10 .

Allows you to reload crossbows as a free action.

But isn't it only the same crossbow as your rapid reload was for anyway - meaning that you already have to have wasted a feat on a heavy crossbow and sucked it up for 4 levels.

Taldor

Bhrymm wrote:

In the CotCT Player's guide is the feat Crossbow Mastery p.10 .

Allows you to reload crossbows as a free action.

Unfortunately you end up spending two feats, this and Rapid Reload, to be able to gain +1 average damage with the die over a longbow.

What compounds it further is that the composite bows can have strength pulls on them, so they can surpass the +1 average damage to the die easily.

Human Fighter with Composite Longbow with +2 strength pull
1 - Point Blank, Rapid Shot, Precise Shot
2 - Weapon Focus
3 - Deadly Aim
4 - Weapon Specialization

By fourth level this guy is firing two arrows a round causing 1d8+9 (average of 13.5 damage per arrow).

Human Fighter with Heavy Crossbow
1 - Point Blank, Rapid Shot, Rapid Reload
2 - Crossbow Mastery
3 - Precise Shot
4 - Weapon Focus

Going on the assumption that to hit bonuses are better for overall damage output with rapid shot, this crossbow guy is already falling behind, with only 1d10+1 (6.5 damage per arrow). The only advantages this guy has is an increased crit threat and +10' range.

You could save a feat and get a repeating heavy crossbow, upping the damage output by +4 at fourth level with deadly aim, but with rapid shot you'd use up your five shots in two and a half rounds and then need to spend a whole turn reloading. So even that is grossly inefficient.

So unfortunately, feats can't really solve the problem with the crossbow. The core rules around them need to be patched.


GroovyTaxi wrote:
"This" being filling the crossbow with pixies?

Well, it sounds silly when you say it like that...

Osirion

Dude, Blake, it was pretty silly to begin with. But even so, its better than a talking animated one ala Disney cartoon Beauty and the Beast....This is my friend, twangy the crossbow.


With magic as common as it is in D&D and Pathfinder I find it amazing that a magical self-cocking crossbow was never added. Why mess around with complicated gears and mechanisms when a simple, dedicated magic force spell can pull back the string on your crossbow for you? Then just slap a bolt in and you are ready to go.

If you really wanted to get fancy you can create an extra-dimensional bolt clip that you attach to the top that can hold 50 bolts.

Why not?

I would charge maybe +1 bonus for the self-cocking enchantment (since it replaces a feat similar to seeking does) and maybe 1000gp for the clip.

Done.


Mok wrote:
The heavy crossbow's description makes it equivalent to a one-handed weapon. When you look at the weapon sizes entry it follows that a medium sized creature using a large sized one-handed weapon is like having a two-handed weapon. Thus, yeah, you could run around with a large sized heavy crossbow. You'd have a -2 to hit with it because it is the wrong size, but doing 1d12 damage. You would need to use two hands to fire the weapon because it would be a "two handed" equivalent weapon. There wouldn't be any higher penalty for trying to fire it with one hand, it would just be an either/or situation.

Shouldn't the damage go to 2d8 and not 1d12?

My main though was that it normally requires two hands to fire a crossbow. 2-hands goes to "can't be used". It can be used 1-handed at a -4. 1-handed goes to 2-handed.

Same thinking as a Large Bastard Sword. Base use is 2-Handed, "can't be used". It can be used one-handed as an Exotic weapon, -4 non-proficient.

*edit*
Is a medium sized character allowed to use Large longbows? Shortbows?


Mok wrote:


Going on the assumption that to hit bonuses are better for overall damage output with rapid shot, this crossbow guy is already falling behind, with only 1d10+1 (6.5 damage per arrow). The only advantages this guy has is an increased crit threat and +10' range.

Actually until you add somethign that increases the Threat Range of the crossbow, the critical damage of crossbow is the same as a Longbow.

Crossbow is twice as likely to threaten a crit but only increases the damage by 100% (x2 multiplier). Longbow will crit half as often but will increase the damage of the crit by +200% (x3 multiplier). In the long run the critical effect averages out to the same.

Actually even once Improved Critical is applied the math still comes out the same I believe.

What crossbow need and what I would do would be to allow them to have the equivalent to "Might/Composite" so that a minimum strength is required to load them but also grants that same strength bonus to damage.

Additionally, I would give them an accuracy bonus. Historically (as others have mentioned) the accuracy of the crossbow over a traditional bow was one of its selling points. Either a natural +1 to hit, or an aiming rule of some sort. Spend a move action to aim and gain a +2 attach bonus.

Osirion

Mok wrote:
Bhrymm wrote:

In the CotCT Player's guide is the feat Crossbow Mastery p.10 .

Allows you to reload crossbows as a free action.

Unfortunately you end up spending two feats, this and Rapid Reload, to be able to gain +1 average damage with the die over a longbow.

What compounds it further is that the composite bows can have strength pulls on them, so they can surpass the +1 average damage to the die easily.

Human Fighter with Composite Longbow with +2 strength pull
1 - Point Blank, Rapid Shot, Precise Shot
2 - Weapon Focus
3 - Deadly Aim
4 - Weapon Specialization

By fourth level this guy is firing two arrows a round causing 1d8+9 (average of 13.5 damage per arrow).

Human Fighter with Heavy Crossbow
1 - Point Blank, Rapid Shot, Rapid Reload
2 - Crossbow Mastery
3 - Precise Shot
4 - Weapon Focus

Going on the assumption that to hit bonuses are better for overall damage output with rapid shot, this crossbow guy is already falling behind, with only 1d10+1 (6.5 damage per arrow). The only advantages this guy has is an increased crit threat and +10' range.

You could save a feat and get a repeating heavy crossbow, upping the damage output by +4 at fourth level with deadly aim, but with rapid shot you'd use up your five shots in two and a half rounds and then need to spend a whole turn reloading. So even that is grossly inefficient.

So unfortunately, feats can't really solve the problem with the crossbow. The core rules around them need to be patched.

You made an assumption of a positive strength bonus. In a low point buy its hard to make one stat decently good without a bunch of +0 stats or negatives. If you have a negative strangth bonus its applied to bows but not crossbows.


I see the heavy crossbow as an NPC weapon/weapon for large units of people.

Say you have 20 grunt guards up on a wall. 10 fire crossbows one round, and then the round they're reloading, the other 10 fire crossbows. The extra damage WILL count in a situation like that. (Or otherwise, if they take the feat to be able to load faster--they're NPC grunts; it's unlikely they'll be using the feat for anything else)

Otherwise, for small groups, the only reason someone would have one is if you're primarily melee oriented, but you want something to fire off in case you end up at range, which you can then drop once the enemy gets closer so you can charge into melee.

Taldor

Dorje Sylas wrote:
Shouldn't the damage go to 2d8 and not 1d12?

You're right, I forgot to do the column shift, rather than just a die step. That would bring it up to 8.5 average damage.

Dorje Sylas wrote:

My main though was that it normally requires two hands to fire a crossbow. 2-hands goes to "can't be used". It can be used 1-handed at a -4. 1-handed goes to 2-handed.

Same thinking as a Large Bastard Sword. Base use is 2-Handed, "can't be used". It can be used one-handed as an Exotic weapon, -4 non-proficient.

*edit*
Is a medium sized character allowed to use Large longbows? Shortbows?

Those are good points. The problem with the RAW is that melee weapons are broken down into light, one-handed, and two-handed, but ranged weapons aren't classified that way. Whatever handedness they have is described in their individual text entry. It makes interpreting the rules a bit more messy. It would be great if the whole thing was systematized.

The description for both the short bow and long bow start with, "You need two hands to use a bow, regardless of its size." One can assume when they are speaking of "size" that they are really talking about the difference between short and long bows, and not creature size scaling. And of course everyone knows that "using two hands" has to do with firing the arrow, and not the fact that it is so heavy, such as with a greatsword.

Despite all of that, you could simply use the "two handed" rule for scaling which would put even short bows out of reach of being used by a smaller creature. The real life argument could be that because of the smaller frame, the creature would not be able to physically pull the arrow back far enough to be able to effectively use the bow.

Taldor

Bhrymm wrote:
You made an assumption of a positive strength bonus. In a low point buy its hard to make one stat decently good without a bunch of +0 stats or negatives. If you have a negative strangth bonus its applied to bows but not crossbows.

True. But even if you shave off 2 points of damage, the archer is doing almost twice the damage of the crossbowman.

Now if you have a negative strength, then yeah, the only recourse you have is to a crossbow. I'm actually playing a tiny sized paladin right now in a campaign that only has a 3 strength. He's got a tiny sized repeating heavy crossbow to get around the -4 strength disadvantage. It works great.

But in terms of making a character that is dedicated to fighting with missile fire it normally wouldn't make any sense to have a negative strength, nor using a crossbow. Even in a 15 point buy game, you'd want your best stat to be dex, and make sure your strength is 10, and you'd come out ahead with the longbow compared to the feat tax that the crossbow has.

Taldor

Kalyth wrote:
What crossbow need and what I would do would be to allow them to have the equivalent to "Might/Composite" so that a minimum strength is required to load them but also grants that same strength bonus to damage.

I can see that with a light crossbow, where you are using your own physical strength to pull back the string.

But a heavy crossbow has a winch, allowing energy to be stored gradually and thus allowing almost anyone to be able to crank up far more power then they could achieve in just one pull.

That's what I'd see as the biggest draw. Character's who do not have much strength could still deliver high impact damage on targets.


Kalyth wrote:

What crossbow need and what I would do would be to allow them to have the equivalent to "Might/Composite" so that a minimum strength is required to load them but also grants that same strength bonus to damage.

This, basically. Bows get a bonus for getting multiple shots, though, so I would go one step furthur and allow a crossbow to apply DOUBLE their STR rating to the damage.

So a Light Crossbow for STR 16 deals 1d8+6. That to me makes crossbows pretty cool. Not as cool as bows, nor should they be. Simple vs Martial weapons. But now a crossbow user can focus on getting that one good shot through Vital Strike, or at least it becomes a viable secondary weapon for most if not all characters (with any STR bonus, that is).

The cost/damage formula works out, considering the lack of Rapid Shot and Many Shot. It just gives someone else the option of having one very powerful ranged attack than doing something else. At the very least, a low-level Sorcerer or Wizard would have some reason to use the weapon, and it makes a good non-magical drop for enemies.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Historically, the bow was largely a better weapon. Crossbow required little training, had more kinetic energy behind the shot, was eaiser to aim, and could carry a nocked bolt at all times. The disadvantages were that it was SLOW to load and weighted more than a bow.

That said, I think crossbows probably should Strength rating (like a composite bow). If you meet the Strength rating, you can load the weapon as a move action. If you don't, it is a full round action (regardless of wheter it is a light or heavy crossbow). Light crossbows equal composite shortbows and heavy crossbows equal composite longbows. The Strength bonus to damage is inherient to the weapon and does not relay on the user's actually Strength score except to determine how long it takes to load.


Actually Mirror Mirror, it's why I'm looking at Large heavy crossbows. If it only suffers a -2 penalty it should make a decent single shot per round sniper weapon. The Vital Strike tree is good for it doubling the damage dice to (4d8, 6d8, and 8d8). It's like getting hit with full attack of great swords you don't see coming. Also add on Pinpoint Targeting as your near capstone and I say this is a large monster hunters setup.

Or something to really piss off your players with at higher levels. One trick ponies aren't so good for PCs, but very good for NPCs.


Dorje Sylas wrote:

Actually Mirror Mirror, it's why I'm looking at Large heavy crossbows. If it only suffers a -2 penalty it should make a decent single shot per round sniper weapon. The Vital Strike tree is good for it doubling the damage dice to (4d8, 6d8, and 8d8). It's like getting hit with full attack of great swords you don't see coming. Also add on Pinpoint Targeting as your near capstone and I say this is a large monster hunters setup.

Or something to really piss off your players with at higher levels. One trick ponies aren't so good for PCs, but very good for NPCs.

Ah, like an Arbalest.

My DM introduced the weapon in our RotRL campaign. It's a Martial Weapon, range 150, 2d8 dmg, crit 19-20 x2. Basically, it's just an oversized crossbow, but it is Martial. And the NPC fighter is using all the VS he can on it. It's good. Not as good as what the archer can do, but still solid damage, AND with Rapid Reload he gets to fire it off every round.

So your plan is just fine, will not break the game, and should probably be houseruled to get rid of the -2.

Osirion

Mok wrote:
Bhrymm wrote:
You made an assumption of a positive strength bonus. In a low point buy its hard to make one stat decently good without a bunch of +0 stats or negatives. If you have a negative strangth bonus its applied to bows but not crossbows.

True. But even if you shave off 2 points of damage, the archer is doing almost twice the damage of the crossbowman.

Now if you have a negative strength, then yeah, the only recourse you have is to a crossbow. I'm actually playing a tiny sized paladin right now in a campaign that only has a 3 strength. He's got a tiny sized repeating heavy crossbow to get around the -4 strength disadvantage. It works great.

But in terms of making a character that is dedicated to fighting with missile fire it normally wouldn't make any sense to have a negative strength, nor using a crossbow. Even in a 15 point buy game, you'd want your best stat to be dex, and make sure your strength is 10, and you'd come out ahead with the longbow compared to the feat tax that the crossbow has.

Negative strength bonus also applies to attacks with bows.

Shadow Lodge

Lord Twig wrote:

With magic as common as it is in D&D and Pathfinder I find it amazing that a magical self-cocking crossbow was never added. Why mess around with complicated gears and mechanisms when a simple, dedicated magic force spell can pull back the string on your crossbow for you? Then just slap a bolt in and you are ready to go.

If you really wanted to get fancy you can create an extra-dimensional bolt clip that you attach to the top that can hold 50 bolts.

Why not?

I would charge maybe +1 bonus for the self-cocking enchantment (since it replaces a feat similar to seeking does) and maybe 1000gp for the clip.

Done.

Magic Item Compendium for 3.5 introduced the Reloading property for Crossbows, which essentially used magic to give you the Rapid Reload feat for the cost of a +1 enhancement. It basically created an invisible magic pocket that functioned like a clip, which I think could hold 10 bolts. I personally ruled that if you had both that AND Rapid Reload they stacked, which made Heavy Crossbows more manageable. A must-have for anyone who wanted to make a Crossbow user.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The thought that I had was to give a crossbow a strength rating for loading and damage, but not firing, as well as a variable reload time based on the difference between the loader's strength bonus and the bow's bonus.

Reloading would be something like a free action if your strength was larger than the bow's bonus, a move if equal and an additional move for each point of difference if the bow's bonus was larger.

The halfling sorcerer could carry a Str 20 crossbow that the barbarian reloads for him between fights. He gets one shot with it, but it's a pretty useful shot, doing 1dX + 5 damage. Reloading for a second shot is possible in combat, but it will take a while.

Actually, there should probably also be a cap on how much of a difference there can be between the strengths. Otherwise, while the spell casters prepare spells, the fighter prepares his Str 210 crossbow so he can start a fight off with 1d8+100 damage before everyone closes into melee.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The heavy crossbow is a good weapon if you aren't a missile specialist. Let's face it, how often do you usually get the option for more than one shot in the opening round unless you are a missile specialist? The heavy crossbow is just great for the shoot, drop and charge/use spell/do whatever opening round. Best thing is, everyone can use one.


Dabbler wrote:
The heavy crossbow is a good weapon if you aren't a missile specialist. Let's face it, how often do you usually get the option for more than one shot in the opening round unless you are a missile specialist? The heavy crossbow is just great for the shoot, drop and charge/use spell/do whatever opening round. Best thing is, everyone can use one.

+1. Plus you can attach a bayonet if necessary.

Zo


Dabbler wrote:
The heavy crossbow is a good weapon if you aren't a missile specialist. Let's face it, how often do you usually get the option for more than one shot in the opening round unless you are a missile specialist? The heavy crossbow is just great for the shoot, drop and charge/use spell/do whatever opening round. Best thing is, everyone can use one.

I agree. The heavy crossbow does not suck. It's just not the best weapon for everybody.

I suppose if my sorceress had magic missile, she'd never use her crossbow, but she doesn't, so she does. It's a good way to open up the fight. It works for my character, but for the serious ranged combatant, something else would probably be more appropriate.


Can the crossbow fire more then once per round without having to devour feats to do so? Can they take Manyshot? Can they apply strength to damage?

The reverse of this is your answer. Regardless of what kind of crossbow it is.

And unfortunately, the answer is: "Unless houseruled, all crossbows are terrible weapons."


Thraxus wrote:

Historically, the bow was largely a better weapon. Crossbow required little training, had more kinetic energy behind the shot, was eaiser to aim, and could carry a nocked bolt at all times. The disadvantages were that it was SLOW to load and weighted more than a bow.

That said, I think crossbows probably should Strength rating (like a composite bow). If you meet the Strength rating, you can load the weapon as a move action. If you don't, it is a full round action (regardless of wheter it is a light or heavy crossbow). Light crossbows equal composite shortbows and heavy crossbows equal composite longbows. The Strength bonus to damage is inherient to the weapon and does not relay on the user's actually Strength score except to determine how long it takes to load.

Wrong on bows being a better weapon.

Historically, the bow died long before the crossbow did.

Crossbows have a lot of benefits that the game doesn't show. Bows have a lot of negatives the game doesn't show.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Thraxus wrote:

Historically, the bow was largely a better weapon. Crossbow required little training, had more kinetic energy behind the shot, was eaiser to aim, and could carry a nocked bolt at all times. The disadvantages were that it was SLOW to load and weighted more than a bow.

That said, I think crossbows probably should Strength rating (like a composite bow). If you meet the Strength rating, you can load the weapon as a move action. If you don't, it is a full round action (regardless of wheter it is a light or heavy crossbow). Light crossbows equal composite shortbows and heavy crossbows equal composite longbows. The Strength bonus to damage is inherient to the weapon and does not relay on the user's actually Strength score except to determine how long it takes to load.

Wrong on bows being a better weapon.

Historically, the bow died long before the crossbow did.

Crossbows have a lot of benefits that the game doesn't show. Bows have a lot of negatives the game doesn't show.

I'm sorry, but I have call bunk, prof. In Britain the longbow replaced the crossbow as the missile weapon of war in the time of Edward I and was still in use in the 17th century when muskets were well established. They only went out of use then because the Royalists lost the civil war, and they had made the most use of the longbow. Wellington wanted longbowmen at the battle of Waterloo in 1815, but appreciable numbers of men with the skill could no longer be found. No-one wanted crossbows at Waterloo.

I don't disagree that that the crossbow had some advantages - and those advantages ARE represented: It's a simple weapon (everyone can use it), it inflicts equal or better base damage than the bow. It even has an advantage the crossbow didn't historically have, better range.

I also agree that the longbow should probably be an exotic weapon (although the power of the historic longbow was more like the greatbow which in 3.5 was an exotic weapon) because it did require intense training to use.

But once you had a longbowman, he could shoot further and faster than the crossbow with nearly equal power, and that is why English armies were feared throughout Europe in the middle ages, and that is just the way that they work. Crossbows WERE slow-loading, and that is their biggest disadvantage in any game. Live with it.


Dabbler wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Thraxus wrote:

Historically, the bow was largely a better weapon. Crossbow required little training, had more kinetic energy behind the shot, was eaiser to aim, and could carry a nocked bolt at all times. The disadvantages were that it was SLOW to load and weighted more than a bow.

That said, I think crossbows probably should Strength rating (like a composite bow). If you meet the Strength rating, you can load the weapon as a move action. If you don't, it is a full round action (regardless of wheter it is a light or heavy crossbow). Light crossbows equal composite shortbows and heavy crossbows equal composite longbows. The Strength bonus to damage is inherient to the weapon and does not relay on the user's actually Strength score except to determine how long it takes to load.

Wrong on bows being a better weapon.

Historically, the bow died long before the crossbow did.

Crossbows have a lot of benefits that the game doesn't show. Bows have a lot of negatives the game doesn't show.

I'm sorry, but I have call bunk, prof. In Britain the longbow replaced the crossbow as the missile weapon of war in the time of Edward I and was still in use in the 17th century when muskets were well established. They only went out of use then because the Royalists lost the civil war, and they had made the most use of the longbow. Wellington wanted longbowmen at the battle of Waterloo in 1815, but appreciable numbers of men with the skill could no longer be found. No-one wanted crossbows at Waterloo.

I don't disagree that that the crossbow had some advantages - and those advantages ARE represented: It's a simple weapon (everyone can use it), it inflicts equal or better base damage than the bow. It even has an advantage the crossbow didn't historically have, better range.

I also agree that the longbow should probably be an exotic weapon (although the power of the historic longbow was more like the greatbow which in 3.5 was an exotic weapon) because it did require...

Bowmen didn't shoot accurately AND at high ranges - it was one or the other.

And your advantages? Crossbows don't do more damage then a bow does, when they should be doing 3-4 times the damage. They do LESS damage once you equate strength bonus.

As for bows, no. There are NO bow disadvantages. Fatigue from overuse? Gone. Inability to use longbows on a horse (one of the crossbow's bigger advantages)? Gone. Lack of precision aiming at distances (another advantage of the crossbow)? Gone.

What about crossbows? Significantly better aiming? Gone. Significantly higher power? Gone. Significantly easier training? Yeah no, bows are martial weapons, and the only class that doesn't have at least shortbows are casters, who don't use weapons. Gone. Repeating crossbows required you to do nothing but pull a lever and they're exotic weapons, for god's sake, while the highly specialized longbows are given to half the bloody classes out there.

That's my problem - bows are nothing but advantages. XBows are nothing but disadvantages.

At the end of the day, if your weapon has no purpose outside of "the wizard uses it I guess when he runs out of spells," your weapon mechanics are flawed.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I had a Kobold Sorcerer who used a MEDIUM sized Heavy Crossbow....

He also had the Shaky flaw for an additional -2 penalty...

He never actually HIT anything with the crossbow and had to get someone else to load it for him after battles... but he loved that thing :)

Of course the party usually hit the dirt when he grabbed it.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Bowmen didn't shoot accurately AND at high ranges - it was one or the other.

Not so - the longbowmen were trained to bring a rain of arrows down on an area at range, rather than at an individual because that was an effective way of shooting. A skilled archer could place an arrow on target at range, just as easily as a skilled crossbowman.

ProfessorCirno wrote:
And your advantages? Crossbows don't do more damage then a bow does, when they should be doing 3-4 times the damage. They do LESS damage once you equate strength bonus.

I've seen demonstrations against ballistics gel with both crossbows and longbows, and I will agree that the crossbow inflicts - on average - greater damage. 3-4 times as much is twaddle, though; there is more to damage than just the force of the draw: in the case of the crossbow it was the size of the head that inflicted the more grievous damage but also that unbalanced the weight of the bolt making it lose range against the bow. I will agree that heavier crossbows should have bonus or increased damage from additional force of the draw, just as bows do. In the case of the bow, this force was what I think should require the longbow to have an exotic weapon profficiency.

A suggestion: assume the bolts fired by crossbows for the ranges given are lighter, and introduce 'heavy' bolts with half the range and significantly increased damage: 1d10 for light crossbows, 2d6 for heavy.

ProfessorCirno wrote:
As for bows, no. There are NO bow disadvantages. Fatigue from overuse? Gone. Inability to use longbows on a horse (one of the crossbow's bigger advantages)? Gone. Lack of precision aiming at distances (another advantage of the crossbow)? Gone.

Fatigue from any combat is not factored into the Pathfinder rules.

Use of a longbow from horseback? Quite possible, and in fact it was done on many occasions - such as when Henry V's army forded the River Somme.

Precision aiming at distance? According to every archer I've met, bows have that too.

ProfessorCirno wrote:
What about crossbows? Significantly better aiming? Gone.

No weapons in D&D get a bonus to aiming. But they do get easier use, and as crossbows are simple weapons, they have this.

ProfessorCirno wrote:
Significantly higher power? Gone.

Significantly higher power does not translate as massive damage. They inflict increased damage compared to bows.

ProfessorCirno wrote:
Significantly easier training? Yeah no, bows are martial weapons, and the only class that doesn't have at least shortbows are casters, who don't use weapons. Gone.

Yes, they are simple weapons and easier to use, celarly that is represented. If you were equipping an army, they'd be the weapon of choice. Sorry that doesn't translate as a better adventuring weapon, but that's not the point.

ProfessorCirno wrote:
Repeating crossbows required you to do nothing but pull a lever and they're exotic weapons, for god's sake, while the highly specialized longbows are given to half the bloody classes out there.

Well, if they were represented accurately they'd be a simple weapon. They'd also have a minimal range and inflict very little damage, because in terms of everything but rate of fire the repeating crossbow was pretty crap. Say, 1d4 damage and 40' range increment, and no heavy crossbow equivalent.

ProfessorCirno wrote:
That's my problem - bows are nothing but advantages. XBows are nothing but disadvantages.

They have lots of advantages, just not the kind that make them good adventuring weapons for a missile specialist.

Simple to use - check. So most adventurers have access to a bow? That's not their fault!

I also note that you don't complain about their greater range, which historically they didn't have.

ProfessorCirno wrote:
At the end of the day, if your weapon has no purpose outside of "the wizard uses it I guess when he runs out of spells," your weapon mechanics are flawed

The weapon mechanics may be flawed, but frankly I think they are flaws not with the weapon but with the combat system itself:

Lack of fatigue mechanics - systemic; if you include for archers you have to include for everything.
Lack of an accuracy bonus - systemic; no weapons have this, it is represented by the category of weapon and the threat rating: crossbows have better threat ratings than other missile weapons and are simple weapons.

The 'mechanical' flaws with the crossbow itself:
Lack of massive damage - is this a flaw? It does do good damage with a better threat range than a bow.
Increased Range - crossbows had less than 2/3 the range of bows (this has been tested many times).

Unfortunately the biggest problem that the crossbow has that makes it unpopular is the slow rate of fire, and that's something that isn't flawed. If you want to argue a crossbow should do more damage for less range, I don't have a problem with that, but it won't make it much more popular.


You keep mentioning a better threat range. Bows have more critical damage. It evens out.

Once again, blather all you want, but in the end, we've suspended reality to make the bow a fantasy weapon (which is good) but we refuse to do the same for crossbows (which is bad)


The way I see it, the light crossbow is the basic crossbow. If you are willing to give up movement, you can shoot each round. If you take Rapid Reload, you can still reload light crossbows and move.

I think of a heavy crossbow as a version that sacrifices this kind of utility for more damage. As such, a heavy crossbow would not supposed to be usable as primary weapon. Otherwise, why would anybody get a light crossbow?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ProfessorCirno wrote:
You keep mentioning a better threat range. Bows have more critical damage. It evens out.

10% threat range of double damage vs 5% chance of triple damage is not even, you have doubled the odds on one side to only a 50% increase in damage on the other, that means a better chance of more damage for the crossbow, quite apart from it's greater damage in the first place.

The higher threat range is better.

ProfessorCirno wrote:
Once again, blather all you want, but in the end, we've suspended reality to make the bow a fantasy weapon (which is good) but we refuse to do the same for crossbows (which is bad)

The bow does not have suspended reality any more than the crossbow does, it's just in different directions. The bow does not have fatigue factored in, the crossbow has better range than it should have.

If you disagree, refute my points - I am confident in my facts.

Bows, in the hands of skilled archers, really were better overall weapons than crossbows. History backs this up, mechanics back this up. Adventurers prefer them for their greater rate of fire, in spite of their lower damage, because it adds up at higher level. Adventurers still can and do use crossbows, particularly early in their careers or if they are not missile specialists, and this is perfectly in line with the idea that crossbows are better weapons for the unskilled.


Biggest problem again comes that we are dealing with a fairly abstract combat system better viewed as exchanges than blow-by-blow here. Which makes it difficult to accurately represent the capabilities of any weapon really.

*No rules for in-fighting to get past an opponent with a longer weapon.
*No rules for keeping an opponent with a shorter weapon at bay.
*No rules for half-swording or short-hafting longer weapons.
*Armor making it "harder to be hit" instead of absorbing damage.
*No parry rules outside of the Duelist PrC.
*No rule for grappling with a plate armored knight and sticking a knife in through his visor.
*Skilled fighters only getting three 'attacks' in six seconds. Even level 20 Fighters and Monks pale compared to what can be done in real life.
etc etc.

I think the rules do the best they can to represent the capabilities of various weapons without a complete and massive overhaul of the combat system. So I dont mind how crossbows and bows are represented in the current system. If I want more realism based combat there are other games for me to play that fill that.

-Weylin


Dabbler wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
You keep mentioning a better threat range. Bows have more critical damage. It evens out.

10% threat range of double damage vs 5% chance of triple damage is not even, you have doubled the odds on one side to only a 50% increase in damage on the other, that means a better chance of more damage for the crossbow, quite apart from it's greater damage in the first place.

The higher threat range is better.

ProfessorCirno wrote:
Once again, blather all you want, but in the end, we've suspended reality to make the bow a fantasy weapon (which is good) but we refuse to do the same for crossbows (which is bad)

The bow does not have suspended reality any more than the crossbow does, it's just in different directions. The bow does not have fatigue factored in, the crossbow has better range than it should have.

A
If you disagree, refute my points - I am confident in my facts.

Bows, in the hands of skilled archers, really were better overall weapons than crossbows. History backs this up, mechanics back this up. Adventurers prefer them for their greater rate of fire, in spite of their lower damage, because it adds up at higher level. Adventurers still can and do use crossbows, particularly early in their careers or if they
are not missile specialists, and this is perfectly in line with the idea that crossbows are better weapons for the unskilled.

I think it might be important to your conversation to note that a modern crossbow is a far different beast from the historical standard. Modern crossbows are more accurate than many rifles and much more powerful than a compound bow unless it has a very very heavy draw. This is why they are banned for use in hunting in many states. If you have the modern version in mind when you are talking it will alter your ideas of how effective they are and how easy to load.

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