why are slings so bad?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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thread title


They're free.


Simple weapons are always going to be mechanically worse than martial weapons. Other than that, not clear, really. Because they're low-tech weapons, I suppose? It's possibly an unusual nod to realism; there's a reason you don't see a lot of people hunting with slings after bows became a thing.


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They're not.


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Low damage die, short range compared to other projectile weapons, a move action to load it so you can't use rapid shot or iteratives without a feat tax - which feat you could spend getting proficiency in a better weapon instead. Is it hard to see?

Edit: or, if you're asking why d&d/successors made them bad, it's because they're a weapon associated more with peasants than heroes in shining armor.


Because they're free


They're simple weapons, they're free and if you are only using it as a secondary weapon for when you run out of spells, none of what avr said matters. Personally I use Light Crossbow, but sling isn't bad.

Sczarni

My guess is that they are on pair with crossbows to some degree. Everyone can use them, but to be good slinger you need bunch of feats.


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Clubs are free, and they are not that much worse than swords.


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avr wrote:


Edit: or, if you're asking why d&d/successors made them bad, it's because they're a weapon associated more with peasants than heroes in shining armor.

Actually, the most famous sling user was King David, who slew the giant Goliath with one. A Hero if ever there was one.


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avr wrote:
Low damage die, short range compared to other projectile weapons, a move action to load it so you can't use rapid shot or iteratives without a feat tax - which feat you could spend getting proficiency in a better weapon instead. Is it hard to see?

Low damage die - Irrelevant, most of a character's damage comes from static mods and the sling uses the strength mod making it a solid choice for a character lacking bow proficiency who has a decent strength score.

short range - A valid complaint but the effective range is long enough to be useful most of the time as most DMs won't let you pepper an enemy with 4 round of longbow fire at max range at least not in my experience ymmv.

Move action reload - Same as a crossbow which has the same proficiency level and costs money on top of that, on top of which this is only an issue if you have multiple attacks and are therefore a ranged attacker primarily or higher than level 6 in which case you should have just got a bow or used spells if you lacked bow proficiency.


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SteelDraco wrote:
Simple weapons are always going to be mechanically worse than martial weapons. Other than that, not clear, really. Because they're low-tech weapons, I suppose? It's possibly an unusual nod to realism; there's a reason you don't see a lot of people hunting with slings after bows became a thing.

Totally untrue. People still hunt with slings today. They were also used as an effective weapon of war all the way up to the middle ages, and beyond that outside of Europe.


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Remember also that slings allow you to add your STR to damage, making it a good ranged fall-back option for high STR characters.

Liberty's Edge

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They aren't great, unless your a halfling with martial weapon proficiency and high strength. Then, you get a sling staff, which is the darn-tootinest weapon this side of the Okay Coral. Like if you were a halfling cavalier, per-say...


Brom the Obnoxiously Awesome wrote:
They aren't great, unless your a halfling with martial weapon proficiency and high strength. Then, you get a sling staff, which is the darn-tootinest weapon this side of the Okay Coral. Like if you were a halfling cavalier, per-say...

Sling staff is actually a trap option. The sling-specific feat/traits do not apply to it, meaning you can never bring the reload time down below a move action. I guess the slightly improved damage might be worthwhile until you get rapid shot?

*edit*

With warslinger you could be picking up rapid shot at level 1 as a halfling, and even without it you're losing your move action for an extra 1.5 points of damage. There's basically no reason to use the sling staff at all.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Warpriest with Weapon Focus(Sling).


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LoneKnave wrote:
Clubs are free, and they are not that much worse than swords.

Compared to the longsword: A die smaller and half as likely to crit.

Compared to the scimitar: a third as likely to crit.

Pretty big differences there, honestly.

Gavmania wrote:
avr wrote:


Edit: or, if you're asking why d&d/successors made them bad, it's because they're a weapon associated more with peasants than heroes in shining armor.
Actually, the most famous sling user was King David, who slew the giant Goliath with one. A Hero if ever there was one.

At the time David was a peasant.

Liberty's Edge

Blakmane wrote:
Brom the Obnoxiously Awesome wrote:
They aren't great, unless your a halfling with martial weapon proficiency and high strength. Then, you get a sling staff, which is the darn-tootinest weapon this side of the Okay Coral. Like if you were a halfling cavalier, per-say...

Sling staff is actually a trap option. The sling-specific feat/traits do not apply to it, meaning you can never bring the reload time down below a move action. I guess the slightly improved damage might be worthwhile until you get rapid shot?

*edit*

With warslinger you could be picking up rapid shot at level 1 as a halfling, and even without it you're losing your move action for an extra 1.5 points of damage. There's basically no reason to use the sling staff at all.

Yeah, I was mostly joking, it's not THAT great. However, you do apply your strength instead of DEX, which is good for martial characters, such as my cavalier. I think the best part about it, though, is that I always picture it being a big lacrosse stick, with which you huck little lead balls at people on wolf back. When you think of it like that, it's pretty darn hilarious.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I have a Club focused Warpriest in PFS.

She does well, and I love the look on the Judge's face, when I pull out my club.


If my 6th level ninja acts in the surprise round, he does 1d4 + 6d6 + 14 points of damage with his sling. It's not the tool... it's how you use it.


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kestral287 wrote:
LoneKnave wrote:
Clubs are free, and they are not that much worse than swords.

Compared to the longsword: A die smaller and half as likely to crit.

Compared to the scimitar: a third as likely to crit.

Pretty big differences there, honestly.

It's 1 dmg and ~5% (actually a bit less) average damage, and ~10% (actually a bit less) average damage.

Not that high of a difference. For example, they don't attack twice as much.


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Poor action economy. The difficulty/time of loading the other choice for a strength granting missile weapon is more or less handwaived.


Brom the Obnoxiously Awesome wrote:
Blakmane wrote:
Brom the Obnoxiously Awesome wrote:
They aren't great, unless your a halfling with martial weapon proficiency and high strength. Then, you get a sling staff, which is the darn-tootinest weapon this side of the Okay Coral. Like if you were a halfling cavalier, per-say...

Sling staff is actually a trap option. The sling-specific feat/traits do not apply to it, meaning you can never bring the reload time down below a move action. I guess the slightly improved damage might be worthwhile until you get rapid shot?

*edit*

With warslinger you could be picking up rapid shot at level 1 as a halfling, and even without it you're losing your move action for an extra 1.5 points of damage. There's basically no reason to use the sling staff at all.

Yeah, I was mostly joking, it's not THAT great. However, you do apply your strength instead of DEX, which is good for martial characters, such as my cavalier. I think the best part about it, though, is that I always picture it being a big lacrosse stick, with which you huck little lead balls at people on wolf back. When you think of it like that, it's pretty darn hilarious.

Sling also applies STR to damage, so the staff has no advantage there.

The idea of a lacrosse stick is amusing though :-).

Liberty's Edge

Blakmane wrote:
Brom the Obnoxiously Awesome wrote:
Blakmane wrote:
Brom the Obnoxiously Awesome wrote:
They aren't great, unless your a halfling with martial weapon proficiency and high strength. Then, you get a sling staff, which is the darn-tootinest weapon this side of the Okay Coral. Like if you were a halfling cavalier, per-say...

Sling staff is actually a trap option. The sling-specific feat/traits do not apply to it, meaning you can never bring the reload time down below a move action. I guess the slightly improved damage might be worthwhile until you get rapid shot?

*edit*

With warslinger you could be picking up rapid shot at level 1 as a halfling, and even without it you're losing your move action for an extra 1.5 points of damage. There's basically no reason to use the sling staff at all.

Yeah, I was mostly joking, it's not THAT great. However, you do apply your strength instead of DEX, which is good for martial characters, such as my cavalier. I think the best part about it, though, is that I always picture it being a big lacrosse stick, with which you huck little lead balls at people on wolf back. When you think of it like that, it's pretty darn hilarious.

Sling also applies STR to damage, so the staff has no advantage there.

The idea of a lacrosse stick is amusing though :-).

Oh. i did not know that. Well, I guess it does sort of stink. It's a sling and a club, but it's very expensive, whereas both of those items are normally free...

Oh well, I'm still using mine. Halfling pride!


generally a sling is for First level characters who want a cheap option on ranged damage. It is a simple ranged weapon with decent range modifier for a non-bow.
Some characters keep it as their primary ranged attack, most use their spare cash (as they gain experience and cash) to buy a better ranged weapon.

So they are not "bad", they fill a niche. Throw your club or spear 100 feet and see how well it hits. No hit, no damage.


gnomersy wrote:
Low damage die - Irrelevant, most of a character's damage comes from static mods and the sling uses the strength mod making it a solid choice for a character lacking bow proficiency who has a decent strength score.

That's a fairly fine niche though. You need simple weapon proficiency only, a decent strength and dex, and you need to be more use attacking than buffing others. OK, some clerics may fit, but few others will.

Quote:
short range - A valid complaint but the effective range is long enough to be useful most of the time as most DMs won't let you pepper an enemy with 4 round of longbow fire at max range at least not in my experience ymmv.

It's still enough to often add another -2 or -4 attack compared to a better projectile wespon, if you're in a situation where you have to use a ranged weapon.

Quote:
Move action reload - Same as a crossbow which has the same proficiency level and costs money on top of that, on top of which this is only an issue if you have multiple attacks and are therefore a ranged attacker primarily or higher than level 6 in which case you should have just got a bow or used spells if you lacked bow proficiency.

The money cost shouldn't be an issue past the earliest parts of first level. The latter part is a restatement of my point.


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A sling is the perfect weapon and every character should write it down on their sheet. Every character. It's free, weightless, and can use rocks you find on the ground as ammo. No reason not to write one down and just completely forget about it.

Now to the actual comparison. It adds strength to damage innately so it's better than a bow or xbow for strength-based martials who don't want to carry arrows and don't want to spend much on their bow. Eventually they'll buy a +1 adaptive composite longbow but that's a 3,400 investment (which is 10% of WBL at 8th level, so still not trivial). It has worse range than a bow/xbow but has better range than thrown weapons (and twice as many range increments). Both add strength to damage and the damage dice of the sling isn't that much behind the thrown weapons. The reload is equivalent to the xbow and a thrown weapon build (until rapid reload for light crossbows and quickdraw for thrown weapons, respectively). It also only requires a single weapon to be enchanted, unlike thrown weapon builds.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's as good as anything not called composite <something>bow. Not the best choice but competitive with the other, non-best choices. Sling is two feats for full attack, strength to damage, maximum range 500, xbow is two feats (one for light) for full attack, no extra damage, maximum range 1200 (800 light), thrown weapons are one feat for full attack, strength to damage, maximum range 250 (but more likely 100) but you have to enchant multiples.


SteelDraco wrote:
Simple weapons are always going to be mechanically worse than martial weapons. Other than that, not clear, really. Because they're low-tech weapons, I suppose? It's possibly an unusual nod to realism; there's a reason you don't see a lot of people hunting with slings after bows became a thing.

they stayed in use well into the middle ages, actually.

The problem with slings is that they have the same problem as bows (compared to crossbows and guns)- they require a lot of training. Because getting more than a couple of guys together means there is a risk of someone letting loose at the wrong time and hitting the buy directly behind him in the eye. So it is an even more extreme version of the high skill/low cost balance seen in bows.

Now, obviously, you must be wondering- why were they used, and why did they persist when there were more 'advanced' options? Simply put, the sling uses lead bullets (its primary ammunition when things aren't at 'just grab a rock' level of bad) for the same reasons that gun bullets use lead- the material strikes and deforms in a way that transmits its force extremely well. Thus, it was fairly effective against armored units (particularly since the bullets would be small and hard to see, which means the other side is less likely to use shields or cover in time).

The death of the sling as a weapon of war did not come from the bow, it came from firearms filling the same niche. Once the weapons and tactics had advanced, the sling was displaced.

So, bringing all that back to game terms- slings often survived as niche traditions in certain communities. I see the sling as terrible because pretty much no one really has enough training to use them right... except for halflings (who are pretty much THE 'small communities with humble traditions' race).


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I highly recommend this article (its a link to a PDF) titled, "The Sling: Forgotten Firepower of Antiquity". Its must-reading for anyone interested in the sling; its a fascinating article. Some interesting things: slingers would use different kinds of bullets for their slings, even biconical ones that were better at piercing armor; also, when used in massed formation, cavalry wouldn't cross into the beaten zone of sling bullets. Great stuff for the game, if you want to parlay the article into game mechanics.


Slings were still inferior to bows in both range and rate of fire. Their use was a combination of factors. Some of it was cultural, locals using local weapon because tradition. Some of it was material, wood isn't always plentiful enough to just carve a bow and a hojillion arrows. Stones were easier to stockpile (sure you COULD get super specialized bullets, but making mediocre sling stones vs. making mediocre arrows was weighted to the stones), slings were easier to replace, etc.

All of these things end up supporting the "simple weapon, lower damage" line fairly well. In terms of "realism" it's what I like to call "close enough." In terms of game mechanics and balance, slings aren't always that bad. They're a darn sight cheaper than a crossbow, (lighter too, at least for the first 10 shots or so) and WAY cheaper than the +5 str Mighty composite longbow when your barbarian needs a ranged weapon for his backup ranged combat. Not to mention if your strength is highly variable (rage, buff spells, penchant for getting poisoned) you don't have to worry about not getting all the bang for your buck or losing to-hit.

And it's bludgeoning, which generally doesn't matter (there's what, TWO creatures with DR/bludgeoning?) but people care about now and then.


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Actually boring7, slings out ranged bows for the majority of the life cycle of both weapons, witness Xenophon's experiences during the march of the 10,000. Sling ammunition could take the form of river rocks, bullets of baked clay (very common in the British Isles, where even the early iron age defenses were designed with slingers in mind), or lead bullets. Finally, sling stones don't lose velocity as quick as arrows do due to density and less surface area for wind resistance, which leads to greater effective range.

As for the 3.5/Pathfinder, if you have greater than 13 strength, and one attack per round, the sling is your ranged weapon of choice. After that dump your cash on the appropriate mighty whatever bow.

Regards,
DRS


DRS3 wrote:
Actually boring7, slings out ranged bows for the majority of the life cycle of both weapons, witness Xenophon's experiences during the march of the 10,000.

General consensus from my limited investigation seems to be that was because the Persians had lousy bows, a crappy army, and didn't know how to fire them properly (something about greeks and persians holding the string wrong). Anything from the Huns or the Post-Roman era, let alone the invention of the crossbow, was better. Xenophon was from before Alexander the Great, after all, so there were plenty of techs that didn't .

DRS3 wrote:
Sling ammunition could take the form of river rocks, bullets of baked clay (very common in the British Isles, where even the early iron age defenses were designed with slingers in mind), or lead bullets. Finally, sling stones don't lose velocity as quick as arrows do due to density and less surface area for wind resistance, which leads to greater effective range.

Exactly, it was a simpler weapon.

And I don't think my last post hammered it enough, slings were *slow* compared to a longbow. It took time to spin up and release a sling shot compared to the Mongolian psychopath shooting 60 arrows from his 40-pound draw bow in two or three minutes.


Actually, they spoke about the slings being equivalent or better than composite bows in range (which were around way before Xenophon), slings are actually very fast, you don't twirl the sling around that much, more than one rotation and you really can't accurately release the shot, additionally, 40 pound draw bows would be a joke, a composite bow of decent make had about 100-120 pound draw, a longbow could have up to 180. Even a decent simple bow would have 70-80 pound draw to be useful in hunting. Lastly sling shot was widely regarded in the ancient world as more deadly than arrows. Publius Ventidius' campaigns against the Parthians under the command of Quintus Labienus, and later Pacorus proved that sling shot could penetrate cataphract style armor, whereas arrows had markedly less success.

Regards,
DRS

Grand Lodge

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Our party recently defeated a powerful dungeon ooze with just slings. There was a long corridor down which we could retreat, and we were faster. We had no archer or real missile weapon artist, but everyone had slings. The scary nasty large ooze chased us, but we ran from it and kept up a steady barrage of sling bullets. It took a while, but we brought down the monster with no risk to ourselves.


A bit of a tangent, admittedly, but how viable is a mounted slinger?


Ichthyodactyl wrote:
A bit of a tangent, admittedly, but how viable is a mounted slinger?

About as viable as a slinger on foot. None of the sling's issues are fixed by being mounted instead of on foot, nor are any of the bow's advantages decreased.


Ichthyodactyl wrote:
A bit of a tangent, admittedly, but how viable is a mounted slinger?

Well, assuming a halfing (since they are the only ones with an option I know of that lets them reduce the reload time to free, which is needed for iteratives), you might do well enough. Particularly since halflings can have medium mounts, which means they never really have to get off of them.

Overall, it is similar to a regular archery build, minus maybe a magic item or two (bracers of falcon's aspect, for example) and smaller damage dice. But damage dice is not a real issue, since archery often focus more on getting large static modifiers on a ton of hits. And being slightly less powerful than archery (which is regarded as a highly effective style within the system) is nothing to be ashamed of really.


lemeres wrote:
Ichthyodactyl wrote:
A bit of a tangent, admittedly, but how viable is a mounted slinger?

Well, assuming a halfing (since they are the only ones with an option I know of that lets them reduce the reload time to free, which is needed for iteratives), you might do well enough. Particularly since halflings can have medium mounts, which means they never really have to get off of them.

That's actually what I had in mind. Probably as a Luring Cav.


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Because water balloons aren't good weapons.

Unless they're filled with acid... or nitroglycerin. :P

On a more serious note, because the developers of 3rd edition decided to make them bad. The D&D weapon rules are bad at realism, and instead strive for difference via game mechanics/progression. This requires that there are bad options to stand apart from the good ones. They decided for whatever reason (probably it's primitive origins) that sling would be a simple, mid range weapon. Simple weapons by nature have bad damage and other stats, so that was that.

Then again I don't recall sling being good in AD&D either, so the decision to make it bad was probably made long ago.


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c873788 wrote:
If my 6th level ninja acts in the surprise round, he does 1d4 + 6d6 + 14 points of damage with his sling. It's not the tool... it's how you use it.

Usually in the surprise round your ninja would take a move action to load the sling and be done... unless he's a halfling.


http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/whip-slinger-combat + http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/sap-master-combat = sneak attack sling-based fun?

On top of being a missile weapon.


Blakmane wrote:
SteelDraco wrote:
Simple weapons are always going to be mechanically worse than martial weapons. Other than that, not clear, really. Because they're low-tech weapons, I suppose? It's possibly an unusual nod to realism; there's a reason you don't see a lot of people hunting with slings after bows became a thing.
Totally untrue. People still hunt with slings today. They were also used as an effective weapon of war all the way up to the middle ages, and beyond that outside of Europe.

With actual slings? I know people hunt with slingshots but slings are a completely different weapon.

Dark Archive

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My issue with the sling (and the crossbow) is that they are Simple weapons, which is exactly one feat away from the longbow, a Martial weapon.

As such, mechanically, it should take no more than *one feat* to bring them up to longbow standards. They don't need to be *identical,* and, ideally, shouldn't be, but there shouldn't be a 'no-brainer' choice of one being clearly better in every case than the other.

Halflings of Golarion introduces a *three feat chain* that makes a sling about as good as a longbow, a weapon that is only one feat 'better' than the sling, which, IMO, is friggin' ridiculous.


Maybe the sling is so bad so that characters who bought martial thrown weapons such as light hammers and throwing axes might have something to feel good about instead of wishing they'd chosen javelins or just picked up some sticks to use as clubs.


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Actually, isn't the sling still better than those? Unless you have quickdraw, drawing those is a move action, just like loading a sling is. And then the sling still has more range.

Then again, you can draw while moving, so while you only have 1 attack I guess they are still better for kiting and stuff (not that you can kite in PF).

Liberty's Edge

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
A sling is the perfect weapon and every character should write it down on their sheet. Every character. It's free, weightless, and can use rocks you find on the ground as ammo. No reason not to write one down and just completely forget about it.

This! My first GM showed me this trick, it's also a great thing for when something is piercing resistant. Sure you can pick up blunt arrows, but if you have higher strength and no magic bow, this would be your ranged weapon.


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Considering how long it takes to reload a crossbow, and what Rapid Reload does, I'm surprised there isn't a way to reduce how long it takes to load a sling.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Considering how long it takes to reload a crossbow, and what Rapid Reload does, I'm surprised there isn't a way to reduce how long it takes to load a sling.

There is, but it's limited to halflings (Warslinger alternate racial trait; replaces Surefooted).

Anyway, slings aren't bad in Pathfinder. They're just niche (i.e., halfling cleric/oracle/warpriest with Warslinger using magic stone can be just about as effective as most archers until Manyshot).


Unless you're walking around with the sling in your hand you need to spend a move action to get the sling out and then another move action to load it. Being able to get out a thrown weapon while moving can also be nice in some situations. Finally, there are ways to use multiple thrown weapons. The Quick Draw feat is probably the most obvious, but you could also just walk around with a throwable weapon in each hand at low levels (even while using a buckler or light shield)

The sling does still have an undeniable range advantage, but my point was actually that the martial thrown weapons seem kind of bad too. At least there's some path no matter how suboptimal to advance your use of thrown weapons at higher levels though. Slings are pretty much a dead end unless you're a halfling or maybe have Mythic Vital Strike.

The lack of Rapid Reload for the sling seems kind of like the game's way of saying, "Slings are for losers." On the other hand, maybe it is a form of mercy so that the sling is an obvious dead end instead of drawing players to waste feats trying to make it as good as a bow.


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Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Considering how long it takes to reload a crossbow, and what Rapid Reload does, I'm surprised there isn't a way to reduce how long it takes to load a sling.

There is, but it costs 2 feats. Ammo Drop and Juggle Load.

Unless you're a halfling and then it's an alternate trait.

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