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OK, long post time to discuss a favorite topic of mine. Bows.
I am going to approach this productively using house rules I created and modified to fit into the rules presented in the playtest. This will impact on a lot of elements of the game, from weapons, to encumbrance, and to actions. I will start off with the concept and goals first before going into the rules.
Concept and Goal To add realism, limitation, viability and uniqueness to all types of ranged weapons.
Too often, ranged build characters have provided safety and limitless versatility in combat to the point where some characters forgo the use of a melee weapon entirely. Shooting adjacent opponents and doing the 5ft step dance around the battlefield to avoid AoO (Step action). By providing definitive rules on how you prepare for ranged combat, and limiting the amount of ammunition you have access too provides for a much more realistic
We know the D&D weapon categories have been simplified since the earliest days, forums have been filled with heated discussions about katanas, bastard swords, morning stars and the like. But one that has always bothered me is the bow. People say all a katana is is a keen longsword and people argue both should be unique. But why do we have two categories for bows when the only difference is the shape and materials for which it is made?
Why does composite bows have propulsive and normal “self” bows do not? The difference between self and composite bows is simply a method of construction. Neither deserve their own stat blocks which has baffled me since the early days of D&D. Compound bows however are much more interesting. The idea of cams on compound bows is to provide more damage with less effort. When a compound bow reaches maximum draw, the cams take over the strain providing better accuracy for weaker users. It doesn’t matter how much father you pull a compound bow string; the velocity of the arrow would not increase. Not so with the self or composite which is 100% dependent on the strength of the user. Compound bows may not fit some players in terms of technology but as pathfinder has firearms (although missing from the play-test) compound bows would likely be available in some parts of the world.
To help with confusion between composite and compound wording, for this write up, I will refer to composite bows as Laminate. Also, I don’t really like the volley trait as it doesn’t make any sense to what its trying to do. Instead I turned the ability on its head and called it aim. So, any reference to volley in the rulebook instead refers to aim.
Ok so on with the rules.
These actions involve preparing for the use of your ranged weapon. Each use comes with advantages and disadvantages and some may not be available in all scenarios. Once you have prepared your ammunition for use, you can use the matching ranged weapons normally until the prepared ammunition is depleted.
2 actions>> Quiver Prep: You position your quiver and release the string to allow you to draw your arrows to reload your bow. This often involves moving the quiver from your back to the side or hip to reduce the time it takes to grab the arrows. When a quiver is prepped for use any sudden movement not initiated by you runs the risk of the contents of your quiver spilling out. When you are the victim of a critical success action that causes your character to move or fall prone (such as critical success from the Shove or Trip attack action) the contents of your prepared quiver spill out at your previous location. A crossbow rack mounted on your crossbow is automatically considered prepped.
1 action> Ground Prep: If you have soft ground cover such as wet soil, sand or similar at your feet, you can take an action to thrust a rack of arrows into the ground. This is often a good choice of range prep for longer fights to provide additional arrows when the quiver runs empty. Since the ammunition is placed in the ground, if you move away from the location the arrows are considered dropped and unattended.
3 actions>>> Load Quiver: This action requires loading a quiver or archery bag with a loaded rack of arrows or bolts.
3 actions>>> Load Rack: This action involves loading an archery rack or crossbow rack with arrows.
Longbow The longbow is a long piece of material with a string attaching two ends causing tension. Laminate Longbows are made by gluing various resistance materials together. These create more tension and often retain the curved shape of the bow when unstrung making them bulkier. A longbow is too large to use while you are mounted.
Shortbow A shorter version of the longbow, this bow can be used while mounted.
Crossbow The traditional crossbow or hunter’s crossbow, consists of a horizontal bow mounted on an arm with a nock and trigger. The sting is pulled back manually into the latch to “arm” the crossbow. The bolt is placed in a groove along the arm. The trigger is pulled to release the string and fire the bolt. The draw weight is generally less than 100 lbs.
Heavy Crossbow The heavy crossbow is identical to the light crossbow but with a much stronger draw weight (normally around 150-200 lbs). The heavy crossbow cannot be “armed” with 1 hand and requires 2 hands to arm. Most come fitted with a foot stirrup for better leverage, while others include a winch mechanism to slowly draw the string back with minimum effort.
Hand Crossbow also referred to as the pistol crossbow, this crossbow can be fired with one hand but still requires 2 to load.
Repeating Light Crossbow This modified light crossbow uses a self-loading lever mechanism and vertical magazine that holds 4 bolts. This is the only crossbow that can be reloaded and fired in the same action (reload 0) however due to its construction the repeating crossbow was far less deadly and had a shorter range than its counterpart.
There are 3 types of bows and crossbows, self, Laminate, and compound, while all are identical in use, they are constructed differently which provides advantages and disadvantages.
Self bows can be repaired in the wild if the string breaks, with a successful survival check a makeshift bowstring can be fashioned if you do not have a replacement.
Laminate bows can be repaired in the wild if the string breaks, with a successful survival check a makeshift bowstring can be fashioned if you do not have a replacement. Due to their construction laminate bows are much more resistant to damage, they are treated as thin iron or steel giving them a hardness of 5.
Compound This bow requires a bow press to restring or the assistance of someone else due to the torque strength of the bow. Compound crossbows generally have a built in or detachable winch. Like laminate bows their construction is much more complex however due to the many moving and intricate parts they only have a hardness of 4.
Crossbow; 30 sp; 1d8 P; 120 ft.; Reload 1; Bulk 1; Hands 2; Bow; Deadly d6, aim 30
Compound Crossbow; 120 sp; 1d10 P; 120 ft.; Reload 1; Bulk 3; Hands 2; Bow; Deadly d8, aim 30
Hand Crossbow; 25 sp; 1d6 P; 60 ft.; Reload 2; Bulk L; Hands 1; Bow; Agile, aim 30
Heavy Crossbow; 40 sp; 1d10 P; 120 ft.; Reload 2; Bulk 2; Hands 2; Bow; Deadly d6, aim 30
Compound Heavy Crossbow; 180 sp; 1d12 P; 120 ft.; Reload 2; Bulk 3; Hands 2; Bow; Deadly d8, aim 30
*NEW* Repeating Crossbow; 70 sp; 1d8 P; 80 ft.; Reload 0; Bulk 2; Hands 2; Bow; aim 30
Longbow; 60 sp; 1d8 P; 100 ft.; Reload 0; Bulk 2; Hand 1+; Bow; Deadly d8, propulsive, aim 50
Compound Longbow; 200 sp; 1d10 P; 100 ft.; Reload 0; Bulk 4; Hands 1+; Bow; Deadly d10, aim 50
Shortbow; 30 sp; 1d6 P; 60 ft.; Reload 0; Bulk 1; Hands 1+; Bow; Deadly d8, propulsive, aim 50
Compound Shortbow; 140 sp; 1d8 P; 60 ft.; Reload 0; Bulk 2; Hands 1+; Bow; Deadly d10, aim 50
Shoulder Quiver 4 sp; Bulk 1; Hands -
Archery Bag 3 sp; Bulk 1; Hands -
Archery Rack (3 capacity) 1 cp; Bulk L; Hands -
Archery Rack (12 capacity) 1 cp; Bulk 1; Hands -
Archery Rack, battlefield (50 capacity) 10 cp; Bulk 5; Hands -
Crossbow Rack 1 cp; Bulk L; Hands -
Wrist guard and finger tabs 2 sp; Bulk -; Hands -
Bow Press 120 sp; Bulk 8; Hands 2
Bowstring (10) 1 cp; Bulk -; Hands -
Silencing kit 1 sp; Bulk -; Hands -
Shoulder Quiver This quiver has a long strap suitable to placing the quiver holding 12 arrows onto your back. The quiver can be turned around to hang under your arm allowing you to draw arrows from the front instead of having to reach over your shoulder to pull out an arrow. However, in this position, with the draw string untied, sudden movement or falling can cause arrows to fall out of the quiver. You can only wear one shoulder quiver. The shoulder quiver can store arrows but not bolts. Capacity 1 Bulk
Archery Bag This smaller quiver has a large loop instead of a strap that can be attached to your belt or other waist strap. The bag contains 3 small tubes that can store 3 ammunition (or 3 capacity rack) in each. Unlike the shoulder quiver, you can wear 2 Archery Bags on each hip but can only prepare one for use at a time. The archery bag also comes with a detachable shoulder strap, so it can be stored on your back when not in use like a traditional quiver however the smaller length of the quiver prevents the user from drawing from this position. Capacity 1 Bulk
Archery Rack Racks are discs of soft material that are used to store arrows inside quivers or bags. They provide spacing to allow easy draw of the arrows or bolts. racks come in 3 and 12 slot sizes. A Shoulder quiver holds and includes 1, 12 slot rack. An archery rack holds 3, 3 slot racks. Archery Racks can also be used to store arrows in other containers such as backpacks allowing for easy reloading of quivers once they have been depleted. (this requires a full turn to complete) Bulk an empty rack weights nothing, a full 3 capacity rack is L and a full 12 capacity rack is 1 Bulk.
Archery Rack, Battlefield These Racks are wooden or iron stands made to hold large quantities or arrows, some even have hangers for bows. Found on many castle walls and stationed along the battlements to provide defending archers plenty of ammunition from attackers below. A battlefield rack holds as many as 50 arrows at a time. Providing ammunition for up to 5 archers.
Crossbow Rack This bolt rack holds 3 crossbow bolts and can be mounted on the underside of a light or heavy crossbow providing quick access when reloading. You do not need to prepare these bolts unlike a regular quiver. Capacity L Bulk
Wrist guard and finger tabs These pieces of protective clothing are used by archers to prevent friction and chafing while using the bow for an extended period.
Bow Press A table mounted device used to bend a bow to release the string enabling the user to replace a bowstring on a compound bow without the assistance of someone else.
Bowstrings Historically, bowstrings are made of hemp, linen, sinew, plant fibers and animal hides. Almost any fiber may be used in an emergency and can be made in the wild with a successful survival check.
Silencing kit using animal fur, leather pads and cotton, a ranged weapon with the aim trait can be modified to operate near silently, improving your chances of remaining undetected when hunting. Attacking a creature that hasn’t seen you would normally render you seen. Using a silenced bow allows you to make a stealth check to remain unseen assuming you have cover or concealment nearby. If you hit your target, they have a rough idea where the shot came from, due to the arrows trajectory, but cannot pinpoint your exact location. You cannot hide from targets if they are in your weapons first range increment. For Example. you can hide from shooting someone with a shortbow at 65 feet or more, but not at 60 feet or less.
Removed Volley and replaced with Aim
Aim Ranged weapons with the Aim quality require you to spend time lining up the shot before firing. The number indicated on the aim indicates the minimum distance a target must be to you to aim correctly. Shooting at targets closer to you imposes a -2 circumstance penalty to your attack rolls.
1 action> POINT-BLANK SHOT FEAT 1
You take aim and hold your weapon to pick off nearby enemies quickly. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus to damage rolls on attacks made within the weapons first range increment. When using a ranged weapon with the aim trait, you don’t take the circumstance penalty to attack rolls made versus targets closer than the weapons aim limit.
3 actions>>> IMPOSSIBLE VOLLEY FEAT 18
Requirements You are wielding a ranged weapon with the aim trait and reload 0.
You fire a volley at all foes in an area. Make a Strike with a –5 penalty against all enemies within a 10-foot-radius burst; this burst must be centered at or beyond your weapon’s aim limit. You can only strike a number of foes up to the number of ammunitions u have prepared.
New Magic Item: Endless Quiver
1 action> Activation Focus
Activating this item instantly replenishes its ammunition. The endless quiver is always considered prepped and does not run the risk of spilling if you are forcibly moved.
Well that’s it for this post. I probably missed some things out but at least the concept is here ready for scrutiny. I would love to hear play-testers thoughts on these rules and don’t worry if you think its all a load of bull, I have broad shoulders and can take the criticism.