My take on how to properly use a heavy crossbow in game


Rules Questions


OK I have been in a discussion on this and decided I would write down how I see the use of heavy crossbows should be used in game. The following is given for a heavy crossbow starting in the ready position.

First off, at 1 attack per round the heavy cross bow can only be fired once every other round, needing 1 round/attack action to load. This is stated in the rule set for heavy crossbow.

When a character reaches 2 attacks per round he forfeits his second attack action to reload the heavy crossbow, there by allowing him to fire 1 shot per round. If the crossbow has not been readied before hand, then his shot will be fired at his second attack modifier as the first is used to load the crossbow.

Now this is where it gets tricky.
When the character reaches 3 attacks per round he still only gets 2 shots per every other round, but now the attack modifiers are rotated properly...ie, readied; fire at first attack action, load on the second attack action, then fire on the third.
Here is the tricky part;
The following round the crossbow is loaded on his first attack action, fired on the second, and reloaded on his third. He only gets 1 attack for that round sequence.
If the crossbow is not readied before hand, then he only gets 1 attack the first round and 2 the second. The sequence is just reversed.

When the character reaches 4 attacks per round it gets a bit easier.
if loaded and at the ready, first attack action=fire, second=load, third=fire, fourth=load. this gives the character 2 attacks every round with the heavy crossbow at his highest attack mod and his 3rd attack mod. If the crossbow is not loaded/readied then the shots are at the 2nd and last attack modifiers.

the rotation of the attack modifiers is crucial in this use and the player or the GM must keep track of where the player is at when starting the round when it comes to the crossbow being readied or not at the ready as that will always dictate what modifiers apply to the attack. When the character attains more attacks per round it adds to the rotation in the proper order.

Now your going to ask about rapid shot/reload or hasp of reloading, I know, and I have an answer to those as well.

first, the hasp of reloading when used for a heavy crossbow only loads the bolt, it will not draw the string back for the character, sorry. But the good news is that it will allow 1 extra attack at the characters highest attack modifier at the end of each round as reload time is halved. The same goes for rapid reload, one extra attack at the highest attack modifier at the end of each round. Or if you wish, they will allow the PC to always fire on the highest attack modifier and the third each round and the extra attack at the lowest modifier each round, there by negating keeping track of rotation.

Now how does quick draw come into effect or add to the use of a heavy crossbow, well thats simple. Quick draw only allows the ability to draw, load and fire the crossbow in the first round, there by allowing the PC the ability to always fire on the highest attack modifier in the beginning of each round. Or, in the case of switching weapons in the middle of a round, on the proper attack modifier for 1 round...ie
a PC with 4 attacks per round, he attacks with sword with his first attack mod, he then drops his sword and draws, loads and fires on the second attack modifier, then fires on the last attack modifier (it still requires 1 attack action to reload), thats the end of his round and the sequence then starts at the begging of the next round.

As for keeping a crossbow always loaded, that I do not allow unless it is kept so by magical means, ie.. in a glove of storing or another means that keeps it in stasis. the firing mechanism on crossbows of the proper time period does not allow to be slung without miss fire. The string will also be stretched/weakened lessening the damage and increasing the chance of failure. That and there is nothing stopping the bolt from falling out of the slot when pointed down in an unready position.

Now here is where it becomes a bad idea to switch to a crossbow in the middle of a fight or to use one while in close melee. The loading of a heavy crossbow will allow an attack of opportunity by the opponent at the PC's flatfooted AC. This is because one must use both hands to draw the string back and load, the PC is not/can not actively defend while loading. So if he loads twice per round, thats 2 attacks of opportunity made against the PC.

Thats how I resolve issues with the use of a heavy crossbow, how do other GM's deal with these issues?

Liberty's Edge

I use them as written. And I do allow to carry them loaded, just to make them that tad more useful.

And no, I don't care at all about that being unrealistic.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
midknight wrote:

I use them as written. And I do allow to carry them loaded, just to make them that tad more useful.

And no, I don't care at all about that being unrealistic.

Seconded.

-Skeld


Or, you could take the Crossbow Mastery feat from Curse of the Crimson Throne (page 10) which allows you to reload any kind of crossbow as a free action, regardless of type. The feat requires a Dex of 15, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Reload, and Rapid Shot, so a Human Fighter who really focuses on Crossbows could get it at 2nd level (it's a Combat Feat to boot!)

The Exchange

It doesn't take an attack action to load a heavy crossbow---
From the PRD:
Load: Loading a heavy crossbow is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity.

You take one full round to load a heavy crossbow. You can never get 2 shots in one round without Rapid Reload feat, which makes it a move action to reload a heavy crossbow. Then you still need to take a move action to reload which only allows you to attack once because you can't attack more than one time in a round where move or use a move action (besides a 5' adjustment/step). So even with RR feat, only one attack per round with a heavy crossbow.
You may be able to get more with haste but only possibly one additional attack every other round.

Now if you are talking about your own game houserules, of course, none of the above applies. All that above is just RAW.

The Exchange

Convict #24601 wrote:
Or, you could take the Crossbow Mastery feat from Curse of the Crimson Throne (page 10) which allows you to reload any kind of crossbow as a free action, regardless of type. The feat requires a Dex of 15, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Reload, and Rapid Shot, so a Human Fighter who really focuses on Crossbows could get it at 2nd level (it's a Combat Feat to boot!)

Or this of course, if CotCT feats are allowed in your game.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Fake Healer wrote:


You take one full round to load a heavy crossbow. You can never get 2 shots in one round without Rapid Reload feat, which makes it a move action to reload a heavy crossbow. Then you still need to take a move action to reload which only allows you to attack once because you can't attack more than one time in a round where move or use a move action (besides a 5' adjustment/step). So even with RR feat, only one attack per round with a heavy crossbow.
You may be able to get more with haste but only possibly one additional attack every other round.

Now if you are talking about your own game houserules, of course, none of the above applies. All that above is just RAW.

And just using RAW, Haste will not give you another attack, because you can't take the full-attack action if you have to spend a move action in the same round.

(Incidentally, I just checked that, and did anyone else notice that in the PF Core Rulebook, Halt Undead is out of alphabetical order?)


Actually, this is the first ive herd of this feat and yes I would allow it. very cool feat.

yes those are my house rules for heavy crossbow use.

With my house rule, it allows those that use heavy crossbows feel like they can do more with it than 1 shot every other round no matter what level they are at.

The heavy crossbow is a great mid ranged or siege weapon but sucks at long range or close quarters. Which is the way it should be.

The Exchange

Christopher Dudley wrote:
Fake Healer wrote:


You take one full round to load a heavy crossbow. You can never get 2 shots in one round without Rapid Reload feat, which makes it a move action to reload a heavy crossbow. Then you still need to take a move action to reload which only allows you to attack once because you can't attack more than one time in a round where move or use a move action (besides a 5' adjustment/step). So even with RR feat, only one attack per round with a heavy crossbow.
You may be able to get more with haste but only possibly one additional attack every other round.

Now if you are talking about your own game houserules, of course, none of the above applies. All that above is just RAW.

And just using RAW, Haste will not give you another attack, because you can't take the full-attack action if you have to spend a move action in the same round.

(Incidentally, I just checked that, and did anyone else notice that in the PF Core Rulebook, Halt Undead is out of alphabetical order?)

Ah yes, the change to haste from 3.5 to PRPG, no additional action just added speed and extra attack on a full attack. You are correct sir. Thanks for clearing that up.

Basically Heavy Crossbows are fairly crappy. Spend the feat for a Heavy Repeating Crossbow instead is what I would suggest. Then you can get a full attack because it's a free action to load the next bolt, providing there are still some left in the 5 shot clip.


Fake Healer wrote:


Ah yes, the change to haste from 3.5 to PRPG, no additional action just added speed and extra attack on a full attack. You are correct sir. Thanks for clearing that up.
Basically Heavy Crossbows are fairly crappy. Spend the feat for a Heavy Repeating Crossbow instead is what I would suggest. Then you can get a full attack because it's a free action to load the next bolt, providing there are still some left in the 5 shot clip.

actually that was change to haste from 3.0 to 3.5, haste in the PFCR and the 3.5 PHB are almost identicle (the only differences being a few turns of phrase such as speed weapon instead of weapon of speed in the section describing what it doesn't stack with).

Christopher Dudley wrote:
(Incidentally, I just checked that, and did anyone else notice that in the PF Core Rulebook, Halt Undead is out of alphabetical order?)

It seems in the correct place to me.... between HALL and HAR.


Christopher Dudley wrote:

(Incidentally, I just checked that, and did anyone else notice that in the PF Core Rulebook, Halt Undead is out of alphabetical order?)

It seems in the correct place to me.... between HALL and HAR.

You must be looking at your errata'd PDF (or a corrected 2nd printing), because my first printing is between Haste and Heal.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Fake Healer wrote:
Ah yes, the change to haste from 3.5 to PRPG, no additional action just added speed and extra attack on a full attack. You are correct sir. Thanks for clearing that up.

Not to argue, and further off topic, but that was actually the change from 3.0 to 3.5. PF just copies the 3.5 version.

ETA: Sorry, it's been said.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Can'tFindthePath wrote:
Christopher Dudley wrote:

(Incidentally, I just checked that, and did anyone else notice that in the PF Core Rulebook, Halt Undead is out of alphabetical order?)

It seems in the correct place to me.... between HALL and HAR.

You must be looking at your errata'd PDF (or a corrected 2nd printing), because my first printing is between Haste and Heal.

Yeah, that's what I have. Didn't realize they'd fixed it in a reprint. Does that mean mine's a collector's item?

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