Crossbows / Slings vs Composite Bows


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


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First, let me say that I'm loving most of what I'm seeing so far in the playtest book. But this is a question about something I'm a bit puzzled by.

In PF1, composite longbows were vastly superior to any other ranged option for martial characters. One of the big things I was hoping to see in PF2 was for crossbows and slings to become viable options for ranged martial characters.

Instead, it's looking like crossbows and slings are strictly worse than before. Namely, they've retained the same big disadvantage (requiring 1-2 actions to reload each time), but there are no longer feat options to speed this up.

I was hoping that perhaps crossbows and slings might get some interesting special weapon properties to make them palatable. Sadly, while composite longbows get a number of special weapon properties that make them even better (Deadly d10, Propulsive, Volley 50), slings get a strict subset of these properties (Propulsive), and crossbows don't get any special properties at all.

__________

Now, I'm hoping (and half expecting) to be missing something here. There must be something that's supposed to make crossbows and slings appealing...

But I'm having a hard time seeing what it is. Any thoughts?

Lantern Lodge

crossbows and slings don't take a -2 penalty from the 'Volley' special quality, so Crossbows are better at short range, slings also add half strength to damage like composite bows.


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Ronin_Knight wrote:
crossbows and slings don't take a -2 penalty from the 'Volley' special quality, so Crossbows are better at short range, slings also add half strength to damage like composite bows.

Good catch regarding Volley (for some reason I'd been reading Volley as a perk, along the lines of the Fighter's Impossible Volley ability).

I should do some expected damage calculations to see if that could do enough to make crossbows and/or slings competitive when facing nearby foes...


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Some expected damage calculations.

Assume our archer is firing within 50', has a strength modifier of +str, and hits normally on an 8. To make up for the fact that one needs to reload twice on the second turn with a crossbow or sling, let's calculate expected damage over two rounds.

The expected damage of firing with every action with a composite longbow for two rounds is: 10.2+.95*str

The expected damage of repeatedly firing+reloading with a crossbow for two rounds is: 7.65

The expected damage of repeatedly firing+reloading with a sling for two rounds is: 5.95+.95*str

So the composite longbow is still substantially better than a crossbow or a sling within 50', even with the Volley penalty.

EDIT: And if we move beyond 50', then the expected damage of composite longbows over two rounds goes up to 12.9+1.25*str, and a composite longbow user with a decent strength will be doing around double the expected damage of a sling or crossbow.

So it's still looking like composite longbows are going to be strictly better than crossbows and slings across the board. And so martial characters who want to specialize in crossbows or slings are going to be at a strict disadvantage... :/


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I thought there was a dev comment earlier in the previous forum that the action to load a sling was gone. Apparently not.

Disappointing to see that crossbows are apparently still non-viable. The lack of any stat bonus to damage, and the lack of deadly just mean it won't compare with a bow. I still think the composite versions of bows should be rolled into the normal versions. So just Longbow and Shortbow with the stats of the composite versions. The non-composite ones are still basically just first level gear to be discarded when you get the money for a real bow. And it seems that propulsive means you no longer have to have a particular strength rating for a bow, they scale with your strength by default. The fact that they only get half the strength modifier might help balance them against melee weapons though, making it so that an archer is a bit less godly.

I'll repeat my proposal for crossbows. Give them an effective strength modifier based on spanning method. Hand crossbow gets nothing and is hand spanned, light crossbow is lever spanned. The lever has an effective strength of 14 and therefore a +1 to damage. Heavy crossbow is windless or cranequin spanned, those devices have an effective 18 strength and therefore a +2 damage. Possibly allow crossbows to be hand-spanned at a slightly faster rate with a significantly higher strength than spanning device, although it does not add additional damage. List the spanning devises as an additional piece of equipment. That way there is space for enchanted versions, for example an animated cranequin that will span the weapon for you, it takes the same time to span and load but you don't use your actions which can be used for something else. For example have it span your heavy crossbow, which takes two actions, but you can use those two actions to cast a spell and then use your last action to shoot your crossbow. You can still only shoot once a round.

That's a bit more complicated, but does make crossbows a bit more competitive. I haven't run the numbers though.


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If you haven't seen it yet. Rangers get a level 1 feat that lets them add half their wisdom mod to damage on crossbows against targets you are hunting. Pretty interesting. there's also another feat that lets you reload and stride in the same action. But yeah crossbows still seem a bit weak.


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Crossbows were quite literally the first thing I checked. Not only is there still no martial option, they're straight up worse than bows in every conceivable way but range, and there is no quick reload feat.

Of all of the things that could be done with crossbows, "nerf them" is what Paizo went with?


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Dire Ursus wrote:
If you haven't seen it yet. Rangers get a level 1 feat that lets them add half their wisdom mod to damage on crossbows against targets you are hunting. Pretty interesting. there's also another feat that lets you reload and stride in the same action. But yeah crossbows still seem a bit weak.

Yeah, it's nice that the Ranger got a little crossbow support. The +wis/2 bonus to damage would put the expected damage of repeatedly firing+reloading with a crossbow for two rounds at: 7.65+.95*wis, which is better than the sling, though still not really competitive with the composite longbow, even with 50'.

Of course, even if that did make crossbows viable (which it doesn't seem to), it would still be nice to have crossbows viable for more than one class. And, of course, none of this helps the poor person who want to make a sling-using halfling... :/


Are you factoring in the multiple attack penalties? 2nd attacks are at -5 and the third is at -10. This means your third shot has essentially no chance of critting, much less hitting if you don't have a good range modifier. At low levels, that third shot might be utterly pointless.

At 1st level, an 18 Dex Ranger would get +5 to hit, right? So that third attack is made at -5. If you get a 19, that's a 14, so no chance for a crit.

But honestly, a crossbow is a simple weapon. In what rules universe should it do the same damage as a martial weapon?


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A world with a martial crossbow option for the first time in tabletop RPG history, apparently.


DFAnton wrote:

Crossbows were quite literally the first thing I checked. Not only is there still no martial option, they're straight up worse than bows in every conceivable way but range, and there is no quick reload feat.

Of all of the things that could be done with crossbows, "nerf them" is what Paizo went with?

As someone who used both crossbows and bows, I can tell you for sure.

Crossbows are simple weapons and they should be worse than bows.

They have shorter range, but they do have more punch at shorter range.

They do reload much slower than a bow. about 1/3 to 1/5 fire rate. depending on the pull mechanism of crossbows and skill of the bowman.


Whether or not crossbows are generally worse than bows is not the issue. The issue is that there is no crossbow option in any form (feat, martial weapon, or otherwise) that makes them in any way competitive in any form at all. Hell, with the new cantrips, they don't even qualify as a wizard fallback, anymore.

Flavor-wise, crossbows are an excellent option to have. However, they need to at least have some mechanical relevance. Whether that's feats to make them work (there is currently no rapid reload) or a martial option, something should exist.


DFAnton wrote:

Whether or not crossbows are generally worse than bows is not the issue. The issue is that there is no crossbow option in any form (feat, martial weapon, or otherwise) that makes them in any way competitive in any form at all. Hell, with the new cantrips, they don't even qualify as a wizard fallback, anymore.

Flavor-wise, crossbows are an excellent option to have. However, they need to at least have some mechanical relevance. Whether that's feats to make them work (there is currently no rapid reload) or a martial option, something should exist.

they have.

You cannot shoot a bow while prone,
you need more space for a longbow than a crossbow,
If you shoot from cover(unless it's an arrow slit) you need to expose yourself more with a bow. Lets say that crossbowman can take level of cover more than a longbowman and still make a shot.

same goes probably for moounted archery.

one thing I would do for crossbows is more damage.

1d12 for heavy crossbows.

also reload, 3 actions. with 14 str 2 actions, with 18 str 1 action.


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N N 959 wrote:
Are you factoring in the multiple attack penalties?

Yes, I am.

(To see why the numbers are as different as they are note that sling and crossbow users get 3 attacks over 2 rounds instead of 6. Even with multiple attack penalties, that ends up swamping the -2 this hit penalty the bow user gets, at least under the conditions I describe.)


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N N 959 wrote:
Are you factoring in the multiple attack penalties?

To answer questions like this (and to let people check for themselves) I should have spelled this out. (And doing so let me catch a mistake -- I'd been calculating for a 60% chance of hitting, which is hitting on a 9, not a 8.) So here are the (corrected) calculations, adding in composite shortbows, heavy crossbows and hand crossbows for good measure:

Assumptions: (1) attacking with every action with bows, or attacking/reloading consecutively with crossbows/slings, (2) calculated over 2 rounds, (3) within 50', (4) needing an 8 or higher (65% chance) to hit without modifiers, (5) having a strength bonus of +x:

Expected damage for composite longbow:

Spoiler:
2(0.5*(4.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(4.5+x/2)+5.5)) + 2(0.25*(4.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(4.5+x/2)+5.5)) + 2(0.05*(2(4.5+x/2)+5.5)) =

11.1+1.05*x

Expected damage for composite shortbow:

Spoiler:
2(0.6*(3.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(3.5+x/2)+5.5)) + 2(0.35*(3.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(3.5+x/2)+5.5)) + 2(0.1*(3.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(3.5+x/2)+5.5)) =

11.1+1.35*x

Expected damage for sling:

Spoiler:
[spoiler] 2(0.6*(3.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(3.5+x/2))) + (0.35*(3.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(3.5+x/2))) =

6.475+0.925*x

Expected damage for heavy crossbow:

Spoiler:
2(0.6*(5.5) + 0.05*(2(5.5))) =

7.7

Expected damage for crossbow:

Spoiler:
2(0.6*(4.5) + 0.05*(2(4.5))) + (0.35*(4.5) + 0.05*(2(4.5))) =

8.325

Expected damage for hand crossbow:

Spoiler:
2(0.6*(3.5) + 0.05*(2(3.5))) + (0.35*(3.5) + 0.05*(2(3.5))) =

6.475

The composite shortbow is the winner (because of no Volley penalty), followed by the composite longbow. These are distantly trailed by the other ranged weapon options (the three kinds of crossbows and slings).


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To be fair, choosing an 8 base to hit stacks the deck a bit in favor of the composite bows. (Having a low base to hit favors higher volume weapons, like composite bows, and having a base to hit low enough to allow crits for all three attacks favors weapons with extra crit effects, like composite bows.) So here are the expected damage calculations if one needs a 12 to hit instead of an 8:

Expected damage for composite longbow:

Spoiler:
2(0.3*(4.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(4.5+x/2)+5.5)) + 2(0.05*(4.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(4.5+x/2)+5.5)) + 2(0.05*(4.5+x/2)) =

6.5+0.6*x

Expected damage for composite shortbow:

Spoiler:
2(0.4*(3.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(3.5+x/2)+5.5)) + 2(0.15*(3.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(3.5+x/2)+5.5)) + 2(0.05*(3.5+x/2)) =

6.7+0.8*x

Expected damage for sling:

Spoiler:
2(0.4*(3.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(3.5+x/2))) + (0.15*(3.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(3.5+x/2))) =

4.375+0.625*x

Expected damage for heavy crossbow:

Spoiler:
2(0.4*(5.5) + 0.05*(2(5.5))) =

5.5

Expected damage for crossbow:

Spoiler:
2(0.4*(4.5) + 0.05*(2(4.5))) + (0.15*(4.5) + 0.05*(2(4.5))) =

5.625

Expected damage for hand crossbow:

Spoiler:
2(0.4*(3.5) + 0.05*(2(3.5))) + (0.15*(3.5) + 0.05*(2(3.5))) =

4.375

These numbers are (relatively speaking) better for the non-composite bow options than before. But they're all still strictly worse, expected damage-wise, than either of the composite bow options.

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One major difference between a crossbow and a bow is that a crossbow is fired with a trigger, while you need to pull back a bow before firing. What about some sort of property that allows you to fire immediately after reloading at a penalty to accuracy? That builds rapid reload into a crossbow while still keeping it different than 0 reload time.


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Mergy wrote:
One major difference between a crossbow and a bow is that a crossbow is fired with a trigger, while you need to pull back a bow before firing. What about some sort of property that allows you to fire immediately after reloading at a penalty to accuracy? That builds rapid reload into a crossbow while still keeping it different than 0 reload time.

So let's see. Allowing crossbows to be fired at the same time as they're reloaded with a -2 penalty to hit (say) would effectively put crossbows on a par with longbows within 50'. (Crossbows would have the advantage of not having that -2 penalty to hit the first time they're fired, and longbows would have the advantage of getting the extra d10 on crits.) Longbows would still be better at 50-100', but crossbows have a slightly longer overall range... Pretty nicely balanced, actually.

Composite longbows would have the further advantage of adding str/2 damage, but that's not a terribly big deal. (And they're martial weapons and much more expensive, so perhaps they should have an edge of that kind.)

Composite shortbows would still be substantially better than crossbows at close distances (since they don't have a Volley penalty, while the crossbow users will have a -2 penalty). But they'll be less accurate at long ranges, since they have a 60' range increment instead of a 120' range increment. So both would remain viable options in some scenarios.

Hrmm. Not bad. Much more egalitarian than the current set up for sure.

(Would need to do something for slings too, to make them viable.)


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Porridge wrote:

(Would need to do something for slings too, to make them viable.)

Alchemical payloads that make them the best weapon for delivering ‘special’ ammunition.

Right now, I only find one thing — the Stone Bullet, item level 14, does stone to flesh — but it would make sense that it is a lot easier to package alchemical and magical specials in a sling bullet than it is an arrow.


I mentioned this in another thread, but I think it'd might be interesting to see Crossbows move towards an ambush/sniper weapon. One of it's main benefits is you don't have to hold it taunt to keep it ready to shoot. This also means you need much less movement to shoot from hiding, as well as being able to shoot from a prone position.

So I'd probably give them a larger damage die and then give them a "steady" trait that gives a bonus for spending an action aiming. You can then boost that up with quality and/or feats.

I don't think crossbows will ever be truly competitive with bows for direct damage, so why not give them something different they can be good at.

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A Steady trait is a great idea in theory, but with only three actions per round, I can't see it getting a lot of traction. The ranger iconic needs our help guys! How do we make his crossbow not suck?


Mergy wrote:
A Steady trait is a great idea in theory, but with only three actions per round, I can't see it getting a lot of traction. The ranger iconic needs our help guys! How do we make his crossbow not suck?

Make him spend feats. There's no way a simple weapon should be just as good as a martial weapon without at least a feat in cost.

Dark Archive

So an option then might be to just make the heavy crossbow better and move it up to martial proficiency?


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Mergy wrote:
So an option then might be to just make the heavy crossbow better and move it up to martial proficiency?

You can't do that. There needs to be a simple ranged option for characters who don't have martial proficiency.

My feeling is that players need to deal with it. A club is not going to be the equivalent of an axe. I don't understand why players are trying to compel Paizo make the club work like an axe?

Crossbows require far less training and skill to use. If they were superior in real life, we'd have seen entire armies of crossbow users. Do we? I do not want Paizo to push crossbow into the realm of absurdity just because some contingency of people want it to be as good as a longbow.

Now, I have no problem with breaking verisimilitude at the expense of feats. If the complaint is that no amount of feat options bring it up par with a bow, then I can support a change.

However, this is the play test version. So there's plenty of reason to believe Paizo can/will add the appropriate feats.


Porridge wrote:
These numbers are (relatively speaking) better for the non-composite bow options than before. But they're all still strictly worse, expected damage-wise, than either of the composite bow options.

So it sounds like it's working as intended. What happens if you add Wisdom modifier to damage? At what Wisdom modifier does the crossbow catch up?

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N N 959 wrote:
Mergy wrote:
So an option then might be to just make the heavy crossbow better and move it up to martial proficiency?

You can't do that. There needs to be a simple ranged option for characters who don't have martial proficiency.

My feeling is that players need to deal with it. A club is not going to be the equivalent of an axe. I don't understand why players are trying to compel Paizo make the club work like an axe?

Crossbows require far less training and skill to use. If they were superior in real life, we'd have seen entire armies of crossbow users. Do we? I do not want Paizo to push crossbow into the realm of absurdity just because some contingency of people want it to be as good as a longbow.

Now, I have no problem with breaking verisimilitude at the expense of feats. If the complaint is that no amount of feat options bring it up par with a bow, then I can support a change.

However, this is the play test version. So there's plenty of reason to believe Paizo can/will add the appropriate feats.

Note that I said only the heavy crossbow. The light crossbow would stay simple, while the heavy crossbow would become martial to reflect the added training that goes into a heavier duty weapon.


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N N 959 wrote:
Porridge wrote:
These numbers are (relatively speaking) better for the non-composite bow options than before. But they're all still strictly worse, expected damage-wise, than either of the composite bow options.
So it sounds like it's working as intended. What happens if you add Wisdom modifier to damage? At what Wisdom modifier does the crossbow catch up?

The expected damage for the crossbow with Ranger's Crossbow Ace ability is a little tricky because it has conditional effects (only applies to a creature you've used Hunt Target on, or after you've reloaded that turn), and it increases damage in two ways (+wis/2 bonus and increase die by one step). I think the damage calculations look best for the ranger-using crossbow fan if we model that by having the ranger spend the first action of the first round using hunt target, giving them three attacks with these bonuses over two rounds.

Then the expected damage in the 8 to hit case for a crossbow is:

Spoiler:
2(0.6*(5.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(5.5+x/2))) + (0.35*(5.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(5.5+x/2))) =

10.175+0.925*wis

And for the 12 to hit case:

Spoiler:
2(0.4*(5.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(5.5+x/2))) + (0.15*(5.5+x/2) + 0.05*(2(5.5+x/2))) =

6.875+0.625*wis

That's about comparable to the composite shortbow user in the 12-to-hit case (who gets 6.7+0.8*str), though still a bit behind in the 8-to-hit case (11.1+1.35*str).

So while a ranger crossbow who invests in wisdom and spends a class feat on Crossbow Ace won't be *as* good a ranger composite shortbow user who invests equally in strength, it seems like they'll do well enough to be viable.

(Though it'll still be mechanically suboptimal, since you have to spend a class feat, and still come out a bit behind. That's a bit painful; it would be nice to give players an incentive of some kind to want to use a crossbow over a composite shortbow. Especially if you're playing the "crossbow specialist" class.)


There is the Halfling Sling Staff, which has a d10 damage die, highest of all ranged weapons. Shuriken is an option for Monks, 1d4 + Strength(not half Strength). I remember reading you can draw two weapons at once, so Javelin is an option for drawing both and throwing both in a turn, 1d6 full strength bonus. Trident is similar except much bulkier, 1d8 full strength bonus.

It should be noted that +N magic weapon bonus multiplies the damage dice, so higher damage dice has a bigger effect than attribute bonuses as levels go up.


Porridge wrote:
(Though it'll still be mechanically suboptimal, since you have to spend a class feat, and still come out a bit behind.

But you're talking about making a simple weapon compete with a martial weapon. That has to have an associated cost.

Perhaps you can explain the mentality in this thread that Paizo should some how allow a crossbow to work as well as composite bow for free? Why?


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N N 959 wrote:

My feeling is that players need to deal with it. A club is not going to be the equivalent of an axe. I don't understand why players are trying to compel Paizo make the club work like an axe?

Crossbows require far less training and skill to use. If they were superior in real life, we'd have seen entire armies of crossbow users. Do we? I do not want Paizo to push crossbow into the realm of absurdity just because some contingency of people want it to be as good as a longbow.

Yeah, so there's a real question about what kinds of tropes and character ideas Paizo should try to accommodate in the game.

E.g., suppose one offered the following argument for against trying to make fist attacks not a strictly suboptimal choice:

Hypothetical Interlocutor wrote:
A fist is not going to be the equivalent of an axe. I don't understand why players are trying to compel Paizo to make the fist work as well as an axe. If fists were superior in real life, we'd have seen entire armies of fist users. Do we? I do not want Paizo to push fists into the realm of absurdity just because some contingency of people want it to be as good as an axe.

It's certainly true that fists aren't realistically comparable to any melee weapon, and that they haven't historically done a lot on the battlefield. Nonetheless, there are a lot of fantasy tropes involving fist-fighters. And so Paizo (reasonably, in my view) decided to make fists a not mechanically suboptimal choice, at least for certain classes.

So I take the relevant question here to be: are there enough fantasy tropes involving crossbow or sling users to motivate making these options not mechanically suboptimal?

I'm inclined to think the answer is "yes". In the case of the crossbow, we see a fair number of crossbow using characters in various kinds of fantasy, and Paizo seems to be aware of this; they introduced a popular archetype focused on the crossbow (probably the most popular Gunslinger archetype), and even made one of the iconic characters a crossbow user.

The case for the sling is a bit harder, but one of the Golarion tropes (and longstanding D&D trope) is that of a halfling slingmaster who can kick ass using a sling. (Thus one periodically saw threads in the PF1 boards about how to make a sling-using halfling viable.) And since this is a classic D&D (and Golarion specific) trope, it would be nice to have it be one players can employ.

But I recognize that, just as one might reasonably disagree about the merits of making fist-focused martials viable, one might reasonably disagree about the merits of making crossbow-focused or sling-focused martials viable.


Porridge wrote:
It's certainly true that fists aren't realistically comparable to any melee weapon, and that they haven't historically done a lot on the battlefield. Nonetheless, there are a lot of fantasy tropes involving fist-fighters. And so Paizo (reasonably, in my view) decided to make fists a not mechanically suboptimal choice, at least for certain classes.

But you're underselling it. The fist is a vastly inferior weapon. In order to use it in P1 without getting AoO'd to death or doing nothing but non-lethal, you had to take feat. And even then, the damage is horrible compared with a weapon.

What D&D, and later Paizo, did was create an entire class to make the open hand a viable weapon. Alone, the fist sucks. Alone, the crossbow is not going to be as effective as a martial ranged weapon. It's been hard-coded into the system. You're asking Paizo to throw that out the window just because people like the idea of a crosswbow wielding Ranger.

Well, I'd argue the vast majority of people who want to play Ranger's don't want to use crossbows and don't want Paizo to devote it's limited resources just to make that. I think the Ranger has a host of other problems that rank higher in priority.

Honestly, if you want a crossbow archetype, it should be a Fighter variant, not a Ranger. Alternatively, make the Inquisitor a champion of the crossbow. That seems much more palatable, a la Van Helsing.

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We're discussing rangers and fighters using crossbows, which means the simple/martial argument doesn't make a difference. Who is the crossbow for? Spellcasters have scaling cantrips, so it's not for them.


Mergy wrote:
We're discussing rangers and fighters using crossbows, which means the simple/martial argument doesn't make a difference.

Based on what? Your argument amounts to a club should be just as good as a longsword for a Fighter. At least with crossbows, you have some options to make them better than they are for the non-Ranger. But to expect that to happen with no extra feat cost isn't being reasonable.

Now, build the Inquisitor around the crossbow at the expense of weapon flexiblity and that would work. I think that would even be fun to play. Of course you'll have lots of people complaining that the class shouldn't be built around the crossbow.

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N N 959 wrote:
Mergy wrote:
We're discussing rangers and fighters using crossbows, which means the simple/martial argument doesn't make a difference.

Based on what? Your argument amounts to a club should be just as good as a longsword for a Fighter. At least with crossbows, you have some options to make them better than they are for the non-Ranger. But to expect that to happen with no extra feat cost isn't being reasonable.

Now, build the Inquisitor around the crossbow at the expense of weapon flexiblity and that would work. I think that would even be fun to play. Of course you'll have lots of people complaining that the class shouldn't be built around the crossbow.

Based on the fact we're trying to make Harsk the iconic ranger. A crossbow is cool, and to just drop it as useless because it was simple in 1E seems like a waste. Why not just have the simple crossbow and a heavy martial crossbow that gives some additional benefit?

Also, inquisitors were proficient with bows in 1E.

Edit: Also, why shouldn't a fighter using a club be just as good as a fighter using a longsword? They both have access to the same weapon pool, so longsword fighter doesn't spend extra resources to swing his sword. Simple and martial, for classes that get full access to both, is a completely irrelevant argument.


Mergy wrote:
Edit: Also, why shouldn't a fighter using a club be just as good as a fighter using a longsword?

Because the longsword is a better weapon than the club. This is true in real life and in games that have both weapons. Obviously Paizo thinks that bit of realism is important for the game and I whole heartedly agree with them.

I don't have anything more to add.

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N N 959 wrote:
Mergy wrote:
Edit: Also, why shouldn't a fighter using a club be just as good as a fighter using a longsword?

Because the longsword is a better weapon than the club. This is true in real life and in games that have both weapons. Obviously Paizo thinks that bit of realism is important for the game and I whole heartedly agree with them.

I don't have anything more to add.

I don't buy the realism thing, not when so many other abilities and feats let you do completely unrealistic things. This is a game where you can have legendary acrobatics and survive a fall from any height. Why does realism need to be enforced for equipment only?

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N N 959 wrote:
Mergy wrote:
So an option then might be to just make the heavy crossbow better and move it up to martial proficiency?

You can't do that. There needs to be a simple ranged option for characters who don't have martial proficiency.

My feeling is that players need to deal with it. A club is not going to be the equivalent of an axe. I don't understand why players are trying to compel Paizo make the club work like an axe?

Crossbows require far less training and skill to use. If they were superior in real life, we'd have seen entire armies of crossbow users. Do we? .

Yes, Swiss mercenaries (some of the most highly sought after nonconsvripted troops in the late Middle Ages) ran ramshod over their opponents throughout Italy and Germany with infantry formations composed of crossbow men with pike sopport. Crossbow using armies used at close range were a thing.

Dark Archive

DFAnton wrote:

Crossbows were quite literally the first thing I checked. Not only is there still no martial option, they're straight up worse than bows in every conceivable way but range, and there is no quick reload feat.

Of all of the things that could be done with crossbows, "nerf them" is what Paizo went with?

Agreed, at close range, they need a quality to represent their greater penetrating quality, the obverse of “volley.”


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There seems to be some confusion about the motivation for this thread, so let me say a bit more.

One of the things I dislike about PF1 is when a bright-eyed players wants to join the game, and has the idea of playing a dagger throwing rogue, or a crossbow-using inquisitor. And I have to warn them that to make viable characters this way, they need to choose a very specific sequence of feats and items, and that their character probably won't be very fun to play until these things come together, at around level 7.

So they usually drop the idea they'd like to play, or stick with it and don't have much fun. Since the goal of this game is to have fun, this would be a nice thing to no longer have to do in PF2.

__________

Now, here are a couple stances one might take toward this issue, ranked (IMO) from best to worst:

1. Allow players to play effective characters using this combat style and not be strictly sub-optimal.

2. Allow players to play effective characters using this combat style and not be strictly sub-optimal, but require them to take a particular class/race to do so.

3. Allow players to play effective characters using this combat style, but make them strictly sub-optimal by requiring them to pay a cost (feats) in order to make their concept viable.

4. Allow players to play effective characters using this combat style if they take a particular class/race, and make them strictly sub-optimal for this class by requiring them to pay a cost (feats) in order to make their concept viable.

5. Don't allow players to play effective characters using this combat style. (Perhaps with the rationale that such combat styles are unrealistic.)

For the reasons given above, I'd like combat styles that are popular and player-requested to fall into the first two categories: i.e., to not be strictly sub-optimal.

As of now, unarmed weapons fall into category 2 (are class gated but not strictly sub-optimal), which is fine.

Crossbows fall into category 4 (are both class gated, and strictly suboptimal for that class), which (IMO) isn't great.

Slings fall into category 5 (not viable), which (IMO) is a shame.

EDIT: Though it looks like Halfling Sling Staves fall into category 4 (are both race gated, and strictly suboptimal for that race) which, while not great, is at least viable.


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Meophist wrote:

There is the Halfling Sling Staff, which has a d10 damage die, highest of all ranged weapons. Shuriken is an option for Monks, 1d4 + Strength(not half Strength). I remember reading you can draw two weapons at once, so Javelin is an option for drawing both and throwing both in a turn, 1d6 full strength bonus. Trident is similar except much bulkier, 1d8 full strength bonus.

It should be noted that +N magic weapon bonus multiplies the damage dice, so higher damage dice has a bigger effect than attribute bonuses as levels go up.

Yeah, good. Halfling Sling Staves have the same expected damage values as a ranger with Crossbow Ace, but with strength instead of wisdom modifiers.

(I.e., the expected damage in the 8 to hit case is: 10.175+0.925*str

And for the 12 to hit case: 6.875+0.625*str)

Again, a smidge lower than the composite shortbow user in the former case and comparable in the latter; overall, just a bit behind the composite shortbow. So viable, but strictly sub-optimal (requiring an investment to become almost as good as the composite shortbow).

I haven't looked carefully at thrown weapons yet, since the this thread was focused on crossbows/slings, but I'll try to look at that more carefully in bit.


Ikos wrote:
Yes, Swiss mercenaries (some of the most highly sought after nonconsvripted troops in the late Middle Ages) ran ramshod over their opponents throughout Italy and Germany with infantry formations composed of crossbow men with pike sopport. Crossbow using armies used at close range were a thing.

Crossbowmen vs archers with pike support or vs troops who had no ranged weapons?


Ikos wrote:
Agreed, at close range, they need a quality to represent their greater penetrating quality, the obverse of “volley.”

They do, it's called 1d8 and 1d10 A heavy crossbow does more damage than any other ranged weapon, martial or otherwise and a normal (Light) crossbow does more than a shortbow.


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Having watched my ranger struggle with a heavy crossbow in the last two games, I think the rules as written just sap the fun from the game for them.

They really need to alter crossbows to make them an fun and interesting choice regardless of if you are a ranger or not.

My preference would be to remove the loading time entirely, but give a penalty to hit with a crossbow unless you take an action (maybe two for a heavy) to aim.

If a reload time was still required I’d be tempted to allow an aim action to target touch AC just because the difference in a magical crossbow and a magical bow is pretty huge.


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CaniestDog wrote:
Having watched my ranger struggle with a heavy crossbow in the last two games, I think the rules as written just sap the fun from the game for them.

Yeah, the heavy crossbow is generally worse than the crossbow for sustained fire (as the expected damage calculations above indicate). So switching to a normal crossbow would help a bit.

But even with a normal crossbow and the ranger's Crossbow Ace ability, you'll be doing roughly the same damage as a composite shortbow. And if you used a composite shortbow instead, you could use your class feat on something else (e.g., Animal Companion).

So even in the best case scenario (crossbow + ranger with Crossbow Ace), the crossbow looks like a strictly suboptimal option.

CaniestDog wrote:
They really need to alter crossbows to make them an fun and interesting choice regardless of if you are a ranger or not.

Yeah, I agree some change would be nice (especially for non-rangers, who don't currently have any way to make a crossbow a viable ranger option).

CaniestDog wrote:
My preference would be to remove the loading time entirely, but give a penalty to hit with a crossbow unless you take an action (maybe two for a heavy) to aim.

Removing reload times entirely would certainly make a big difference. But without some further tweaks, it would probably make them too good.

CaniestDog wrote:
If a reload time was still required I’d be tempted to allow an aim action to target touch AC just because the difference in a magical crossbow and a magical bow is pretty huge.

Allowing one to spend an aim action to have them target touch AC is an interesting option, that would give them a certain niche that composite shortbows can't occupy. I suspect that the extra action cost generally wouldn't be worth it unless fighting a very high AC opponent.

But maybe something else along those lines? Perhaps having them target touch AC when within 30', or something?

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