Your GM might apply the feat to the repeating version of whatever you selected.
"Crossbow, repeating heavy" and "Crossbow, Heavy" both covered under the same Rapid Reload
It that doesn't fly the Human "Martial versatility" feat would allow you to apply rapid reload to the "crossbows" weapon group, which would solve your problem.
Well, on a repeating CB, loading a bolt is a free action, so it would not make re-loading any faster. “As long as it holds bolts, you can reload it by pulling the reloading lever (a free action). Loading a new case of 5 bolts is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity. “
Or do you mean reloading the clip? In which case that would likely be a fair houserule, I’d say make it a standard or move action instead.
Rapid Reload (Combat)
Choose a type of crossbow (hand, light, or heavy). You can reload such weapons quickly.
Prerequisite: Weapon Proficiency (crossbow type chosen).
Benefit: The time required for you to reload your chosen type of crossbow is reduced to a free action (for a hand or light crossbow) or a move action (for a heavy crossbow). Reloading a crossbow still provokes an attack of opportunity.
If you have selected this feat for hand crossbow or light crossbow, you may fire that weapon as many times in a full-attack action as you could attack if you were using a bow.
Normal: A character without this feat needs a move action to reload a hand or light crossbow, or a full-round action to reload a heavy crossbow.
Special: You can gain Rapid Reload multiple times. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of crossbow.
I want to be a dual wielder and you cant do that with light only hand crossbows
There is no way to dual wield any kind of crossbow. Non-repeating crossbows require two free hands to load every bolt. Repeating crossbows require two hands to fire (well, one hand to fire if you want, but two hands to reload each bolt).
Load: As long as it holds bolts, you can reload it by pulling the reloading lever (a free action). Loading a new case of 5 bolts is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity.
Note: The repeating crossbow (whether heavy or light) holds 5 crossbow bolts. You can fire a repeating crossbow with one hand or fire a repeating crossbow in each hand in the same manner as you would a normal crossbow of the same size. However, you must fire the weapon with two hands in order to use the reloading lever, and you must use two hands to load a new case of bolts.
So there really is no way to dual wield any crossbow, not even repeating crossbows. Unless you have extra arms, or prehensile tails or hair, or some other abnormality that would let you reload them without using the hands that are holding them.
Or you could try this solution:
Then again, one could go really far out in a world with all kinds of magic and monsters. Maybe your heavy crossbow has little pixies that live in the stock. After you fire it they come out and c-o-c-k it and reload it for you (their action, not yours, so you can fire once per round). Teach them Rapid Reload and fire lots of times per round. Heck, those little Tinkerbells might even get under the stock and flap their wings to lift it, ever so much, just enough that it doesn't feel so heavy. Now you can use iterative attacks and Rapid Shot with a heavy crossbow with just one hand without even the usual -2 penalty to hit!
So, who needs repeating crossbows when you could have trained crossbow pixies?
That makes no sense you can rapid reload a gun but not a repeating crossbow
It's your comparison that's off. The standard gun is a one chamber one shot weapon, not your Wild West Colt six shooter which is an advanced weapon, which you wouldn't need this feat for. The repeating crossbow is a magazine fed ranged weapon. It's essentially the colt revolver of crossbows.
Handing it is essentially dropping it, assuming the other guy is ready to take it (otherwise it's a move action to place an item somewhere in an adjacent square). But being the guy to receive it is like drawing a weapon or, more accurately, picking one up from an adjacent square - this is a move action. Assuming they are readying actions to synchronize their movements, you still get all kinds of weirdness and loss of actions:
Shooter: fires as standard action, hands crossbow to loader as a free action, readies action to receive loaded crossbow.
Loader: uses move action to receive crossbow, loads as a standard or move action, hands crossbow to shooter as a free action, ends turn.
Shooter: uses readied action to receive crossbow, ends turn.
Two guys, one shot. If the shooter has iterative attacks, he won't be able to use them because he is never taking a Full Attack action to fire his crossbow. The same guy could do that himself reloading as a move action with a light crossbow or a heavy crossbow with Rapid Reload, so the other guy could do it too and they could each fire one bolt.
If the loader has Rapid Reload, he might even be able to load as a free action, which would leave him a standard action to do whatever he wants (say, a spell caster who can use his standard action to blast an enemy). In this case, they lose no significant actions, but they're still only getting one shot and one spell. The same two guys could have done that without Rapid Reload or, if the shooter has that feat, he could fire heavy crossbows or fire more than once per round.
I dunno, maybe there is some teamwork feat for this, or someone could make one, but without that, it's inefficient by the rules.
Still a move action to "pick up an item" as you receive the crossbow from any one of the multiple loaders. For the shooter, it doesn't matter if it's the same crossbow reloaded rapidly or different crossbows, it's a move action each time he receives a crossbow, which interferes with Full-Attack actions and limits him to one shot every round. He might as well reload it himself and fire once per round (light crossbow or heavy crossbow with Rapid Reload) and let those reloaders load and fire their own crossbows instead.
"This was a peasant's weapon. It took no particular skill to use it."
I guess the exotic weapon proficiency is inappropriate then?
My impressions are that (besides game balance), some weapons are exotic because they are less common or from different cultures. IMO, a repeating crossbow should be martial in Tian Xia and exotic everywhere else...but the game does not set up weapon skills in that way.
What if there are multiple crossbows involved?
Let's say you have two light crossbows and two loaders with Rapid Reload.
The shooter shoots with a crossbow in each hand. 2 shots
Drops the crossbows, gets a crossbow from each loader as a move action (or would it be two move actions??).
Fires two shots again using Two Weapon fighting.
First, technically, that would be two move actions to get those two crossbows from the two loaders.
Second, the shooter would have ZERO move actions after firing his two light crossbows because that requires a Full-Attack action. So the soonest he could get those reloaded crossbows would be on his next round.
On that round (round 2), he will use two move actions to get them, so he won't fire. Maybe a generous GM would allow one move action to grab two crossbows that are being handed to him. Even so, he's already used one move action this round to get those crossbows so all he can do is fire ONE of them as a standard action. Next round (round 3) he could fire ONE more and use a move action to get two reloaded crossbows, and on the 4th round he could fire two again.
Accounting for a generous GM, he gets 6 shots every 4 rounds. Or, those two reloaders could each fire their own crossbows and everyone could shoot 4 times in 4 rounds for a total of 12 shots fired instead of only 6.
Still not efficient.
Maybe, if the reloaders are really low level and he shooter is higher level with an awesome DEX, PBS, Precise Shot, etc., maybe having him shoot 6 shots might have more hits and more total damage than him only firing 4 shots and his buddies missing with 8 of their own shots. In that case, go for it. Or just give the high level shooter a light crossbow and Rapid Reload and let him shoot several times every round (Rapid Shot, iteratives, Haste, whatever) and he will still get way more than 6 shots every 4 rounds AND his buddies can still fire their own weapons and hope for natural 20s.
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Now you're onto something.
Of course, realists might point out that crossbows don't hold onto their ammo, so while you might be able to c-o-c-k a crossbow and then stick it onto the shooter, if you had put a bolt into that crossbow the bold would just fall off.
But RAW doesn't really cover this, and Quick Draw doesn't say anything about not using it with crossbows, so I could see this trick actually working. By RAW. It's ludicrous by, oh, I dunno, let's say verisimilitude, but RAW seems to be OK with it.
Of course, now you get your main guy shooting his full number of attacks and a bunch of loaders recycling the crossbows - you could have still just gone with Rapid Reload and let the shooter fire the same number of shots AND the reloaders could fire their own crossbows and, as a team, you would still attack more often.
In some cases, crossbows were design with a small piece of metal that held pressure on the butt of a bolt to be able to load it ready to be fired and travel with it. When I generally play someone who uses a crossbow as their primary ranged weapon, I generally have them travel with the weapon in hand ready for the first shot. This is whether or not he continues using it or drops it for melee.
That said and to re-affirm an earlier statement, ALL ranged projectile (non-thrown) weapons require 2 hands to reload even if they only require 1 to fire.
Darth Borehd & DM Blake seem to have some fairly logical system worked out. I would suggest hirelings for the reload task. In real scenarios, squires or other assistants would reload crossbows and lean them against a wall or other fortification for the user to swiftly grab and fire. I see this as a viable option for the Crossbowman. With that, he would require 1 hireling for every attack he has available. This would also only be necessary for a heavy crossbow user who could not take advantage of full BAB.
The problem with a second character is that there is no precedence for the action it takes to hand over weapons ... in the 3e days a good argument could be made for gloves of storing, but even that don't work any more. An extra appendage capable of holding a weapons is the only thing that works without a little help from the DM.