No Action Crossbow Reloading

Rules Questions

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A Free Action reload still requires a free hand, does a no action reload still require a hand?

A Bolt Ace after Rapid Reload can make a hand crossbow be reloaded as 'not an action'

D20 wrote:
Inexplicable Reload (Ex): At 11th level, loading a crossbow becomes unthinking and automatic for a bolt ace. As long as she has at least 1 grit point, she always starts each round of combat (even a surprise round) with her crossbow loaded. Also the amount of time needed to reload a crossbow decreases by one step: a standard action becomes a move action, a move action becomes a swift action, a swift action becomes a free action, and a free action becomes not an action.

Could a Bolt Ace at level 11 dual wield hand crossbows and not need any 3rd hand/prehensile tail shenanigans to reload?

The Exchange

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No. "Not an action" doesn't mean it happens automatically, just that the effort is minuscule.

Not an Action: Some activities are so minor that they are not even considered free actions. They literally don’t take any time at all to do and are considered an inherent part of doing something else, such as nocking an arrow as part of an attack with a bow.

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"You can draw a hand crossbow back by hand. Loading a hand crossbow is a move action that provokes attacks of opportunity." The time spend to load it is reduced, the physical action used to draw the string back into position isn't.

Also, "You can shoot, but not load, a hand crossbow with one hand at no penalty." This is again unaffected by Rapid Reload.

What youw ant can be done with either the Shadowshooting enchantment or a Shadowcraft Weapon.

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Endless Ammunition on a repeating crossbow should do the trick

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A simple process within RAW
1) Keep 2 loaded crossbows in your Handy Haversack,[none]$2000 where getting them out is easier.
2) Cast Unseen Servant:C1 earlier. Attack/Fire your light or heavy crossbow wt:8lbs and hand off(drop) it to your UnsnSvt to reload.
    on a side note Goblin w Str:6 and light crossbow.
3) There's also Reloading Hands:C2 but no cranking in the spell description.
4) (as above) Endless Ammo:(cost +2) and sadly, "This ability does not reduce the amount of time required to load or fire the weapon."
5) (as above) Shadowcraft:(cost $12500 base) and Shadowshooting:(cost +1) are interesting, but there's that pesky Will save. I'd suggest preloading with an actual bolt.

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First, having a crossbow loaded in an extradimensional space like a Haversack *should* run the risk of popping the sack like a bag of holding. Second, grabbing an item from your bag is still a move action (as opposed to several move actions to doff the bag, root for the item, then redon the bag), so you can't full attack with it.

Also, loading a repeating crossbow is a free action (rapid reload drops that to nonaction), giving you basically a bottomless clip of "mundane" bolts that you can then override and load (to the clip) with any special ammunition you might want to use in a given situation as normal.

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for completeness
Repeating Hand Crossbow, $800 4lb. Prof:Exotic, med 1d4P dmg c 19+ *2. Reload as Repeating Hvy Crssbw below.
Repeating Light Crossbow, $250 6lb. Prof:Exotic, med 1d8P dmg c 19+ *2. Reload as Repeating Hvy Crssbw below.
Repeating Heavy Crossbow, $400 12lb. Prof:Exotic, med 1d10P dmg c 19+ *2. Reload free actn using 2 hnd. Reload 5 as full actn w AoO.
while Exotic proficiency (aaaagh) they do give 5 shots using two hands. Again, may be easier to use a spell or weapon upgrade (Shadow) after the first case.

Dwarven Light Pelletbow, $50 4lb. Prof:Exotic, med 1d4B dmg c 19+ *3. Load as lgt crossbow (Free Actn) w 2 hnds. Nice on the Action Economy at the price of Exotic & low dmg.
Dwarven Heavy Pelletbow, $75, 8lb. Prof:Exotic, med 1d6B dmg c 19+ *3. Load as lgt crossbow (Mov Actn) w 2 hnds.

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