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Author Topic: Bows vs Crossbows  (Read 1893 times)
Oniya
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« on: June 15, 2011, 01:42:11 AM »

This is an issue my group has been tossing around for awhile. None of us can really find a reason that makes using crossbows a valid option for a character. Bolt damage is the same compared to arrows. Light crossbows have the same stats as long bows except for the load (which isn't much of a benefit). Heavy crossbows have the greatest AP and threat range, but the load feels too large to be worth it. I know you can get abilities and bandoliers to lower load time, but I feel the load really hurts crossbows (though make sense from a realistic aspect of them). The only benefits I see from crossbows are their smaller size and slightly larger range increment

I'm most likely just missing something, but I'd like to hear your ideas on them.

Also, a question about repeating crossbows. According to the book, they do not have a limit to how many bolts they have. Does this mean that loading the hopper that carries the bolts (as described in the book) is a free action? And why is it that only the repeating crossbow have the indirect quality and not all ranged weapons?
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Bhurano
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2011, 03:10:58 AM »

Hi Oniya,

welcome to the forums. Smiley

Your questions are interesting. I'am myself are quite new to FC, so take my answers with a grain of salt.

The reason to take a crossbow over a bow are many.

1. Easy to handle as a weapon. Where its point, there it hits. Smiley
2. It goes through armor like butter.
3. A bow is nice, but you need time to string him up with a sinew (I hope the sentence makes sense). You can't go around with a stringed bow all the time, or you run into serious problems).
4. Rain can mess up the sinew of a bow.
4. It needs time and dedication to train an archer. So not even any hero should go around with a bow

Bandoliers can only be used to lower the load time of gunpowder weapons, if I remember correctly.
And to change a ammo hopper seems to be only a free action. I didn't found anything about such a device and how much bolts it could hold in the FC books. But the chu-ko-nu (hopefully written right) could fire through a load of 10 bolts in 15 seconds, so 10 bolts per ammo hopper seems ok.

Historically, if I remember correctly, crossbows were aimed at an enemy and fired. No fancy things needed with these beasts. But the chu-ko-nu (asian repeating crossbow) was used to fire indirect and lay waste to an entire area - therefore hundreds if not more were used in unison.

If you want to emphasize the use of a crossbow over a bow there are many options at hand.

1. Make bow forte a requirement for any bow - maybe with the exeption of short and pellet bows
2. Use STR 13 as a requirement for any bow - with the exception of short and pellet bow, you could apply for these two a STR 11 requirement
3. Up the damage of bolts by 1d6
4. Make up some feats for crossbows like:

Crossbow Basics
Benefit: Your crossbow bolts gain 1d6 extra damage and Bludgeon. Also you gain a stance.
Stand your ground (Stance): You gain a +2 damage bonus against standard characters.

Crossbow Mastery
Benefit: Your crossbow bolts gain AP 3 and Bleed.
Pepper the Bold (Trick): If you hit a character by 4 or more, you hit an adjacent character with your attack, too.

Crossbow Supremacy
Benefit: Your load time decreases by 3 and your crossbow bolts gain Excruciating.
Punishing the Undying (Trick): If you hit by 4 or more apply the damage twice. If you hit by 10 or more apply the damage thrice. All damage is seperately rolled.

I hope this helps Oniya. Beware that I made the feats, stances and tricks up as I wrote this reply... they may be unbalanced. These changes should help to facilitate the difference between bows and crossbows.
If anyone sees so, please feel free to correct this.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2011, 04:21:58 AM by Bhurano » Logged
Dawnblade
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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2011, 06:11:44 AM »

I think what he is asking is rules as written in the books available to us what is the point of a character using a crossbow as there main weapon.  While Bharano makes some good points from a fluff perspective there still are some very good reasons to use a crossbow that don't involve creating new feats. 

Let us compare the two

Crossbow, heavy Bolt 1820 60 ft. 6 AP 5, load 7 S/2h Hard 2 15W 8 lbs. Feudal 120s

Long bow Arrow 1920 40 ft. 6 AP 2 M/2h Hard 1 10D 3 lbs. Feudal 60s

Sure the crossbow takes a while to reload but the benefits are +1 critical range, +3 armor penetration, 120 extra max range ft.  and it looses accuracy far slower because it only gains a -1 past every 60 range increments making for a more accurate shot.  Also it is small in size vs the longbow being medium so if your trying to hide/conceal it ....

I find the use of crossbows are not so much to go toe to toe shooting it reloading and shooting it again.  The art of the weapon is your characters expertise can be else ware for none is needed to master the crossbow.  Perhaps your an assassin and you only want that one good long range accurate shot at your target.  Perhaps your a warrior who is master of the longsword but you spot a general in the opposing army across the battle field and want one quick pot shot at him hoping the bolt will punch through that plate he is wearing.

The differences are there, sure there is not a lot of feat support to rationalize it being a primary weapon but its one hell of a situational weapon or backup weapon.
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paddyfool
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« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2011, 06:43:35 AM »

I think you have a good idea on bow forte being needed for proficiency with most/all true bows - it typically took a lot of training to get a good longbowman, and any serious archer would want bow basics anyway, so this isn't much of a nerf.  I would also houserule that you cannot use a bow (except a foot bow) while prone, but you may use a crossbow in either position.

On the whole, the hand crossbow is for fire-and-forget tactics up close (and may interact well with two-weapon fighting) and easy concealment, whereas light and heavy crossbows are for either fire-and-forget or long range sniping.  The repeater-crossbow, meanwhile, is really just there for a bow with the indirect quality.  The arbalest, under siege, is a crit-fishing sniper's weapon par excellence.

Not so sure about the feats... mainly because the Bow line already works for crossbows (aside from the Bow supremacy trick, which works only for repeating crossbows).  

Incidentally:

4. Rain can mess up the sinew of a bow.

The same issue applies to a crossbow, and either can be avoided with a bit of oil etc.
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Bhurano
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« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2011, 07:36:59 AM »

@dawnblade

you made a good point there. Smiley But I don't have my books at work... my boss is a bit picky on that one. Grin So I answered with everything I could find in my head. Smiley Your assertion of how to use these ranged weapons is excellent. Most crossbows and black powder weapons will (outside of military units) only be used to soften a target, to confuse it or to herd (!!!) it wherever you want. Especially against black powder weapons could also be stress damage applied - if used in force or in a concentrated manner.

I would also like to add, that especially smaller creatures (pech and goblins) get quite a punch out of crossbows and black powder weapons. It is an force multiplier that evens the odds tremendously.
Cityguard: "Hand over your blunderbuss. Pesky little goblin, you are not allowed to have that."
Nobs, my Goblin Mage (and former commando): draws the blunderbuss and points it at the nearest city guard kneecap uttering (calmly) the words: "Your kneecap says it's ok." Evil
Let's just say that the GM didn't expected that one from my goblin. Grin

@paddyfool

Interesting. Smiley I didn't know that crossbows profit from the the bow feats... seems as if I interpreted that to narrow. In that case forget the crossbow feats. Also a bow can be used with the bow supremacy trick, but that would need Angry Hornet or Blackened Sky as feats... if I am right. Feel free to correct me on that one. Grin

I didn't knew about the application with regards to bows and crossbows... learned something new. Thanks. Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2011, 08:18:59 AM »

Interesting. Smiley I didn't know that crossbows profit from the the bow feats... seems as if I interpreted that to narrow. In that case forget the crossbow feats. Also a bow can be used with the bow supremacy trick, but that would need Angry Hornet or Blackened Sky as feats... if I am right. Feel free to correct me on that one. Grin

The bow supremacy trick represents drawing back a bowstring with three arrows on it.  The Angry Hornet and Blackened Sky feats represent drawing back a bowstring really fast.  As it happens the two categories stack, making bows the go-to weapon for moar dakka (12 arrows on one of your half actions, with a potential further 3 from the other half action before free attacks, e.g. from Contempt, get factored in... although you'd need a really, really good to hit to make many of them count, and you'd be -5 to everything else as well for the next round).
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Crafty_Alex
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« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2011, 08:53:57 AM »

This is an issue my group has been tossing around for awhile. None of us can really find a reason that makes using crossbows a valid option for a character. Bolt damage is the same compared to arrows. Light crossbows have the same stats as long bows except for the load (which isn't much of a benefit). Heavy crossbows have the greatest AP and threat range, but the load feels too large to be worth it. I know you can get abilities and bandoliers to lower load time, but I feel the load really hurts crossbows (though make sense from a realistic aspect of them). The only benefits I see from crossbows are their smaller size and slightly larger range increment

Crossbows work in Fantasy Craft much the way they did in Real Life - they are generally better for less skilled users. It really DOES take a skilled user about 30 seconds to reload a crossbow, but they did have tremendous punch and, like the handgun after them, could deliver a round at greater range with greater force even in the hands of a raw recruit. The bow rewards training (the bow feats, representing most of what a very skilled archer could do) and so training can make that bow better than the crossbow. The increased silver cost on crossbows represent its innate qualities and ability to "shortcut" training as much as it does material cost.

Quote
Also, a question about repeating crossbows. According to the book, they do not have a limit to how many bolts they have. Does this mean that loading the hopper that carries the bolts (as described in the book) is a free action? And why is it that only the repeating crossbow have the indirect quality and not all ranged weapons?

I doubt loading 20 bolts into a hopper would be a free action, but I guess that's up to your GM Smiley Sounds like a handle item action to me. The Repeater is different in that it actually has a magazine, whereas every other weapon in the game does not, so I'd say use what makes sense to your group.

Repeaters have indirect because that's how they were fired - they were inaccurate and meant to be fired in high arcs to drop on top of the enemy, like a mortar. The "trigger" on a chinese repeating crossbow is actually a lever and the weapon is meant to be braced against the hip when fired.
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Nova
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« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2011, 02:16:24 PM »

To be fair, bows aren't instant either (nock, draw, aim, loose), though they ARE a good deal faster. A hand crossbow would be just as fast, to refire, really (and here the bows are far quicker), while someone with enough power could dragon's-foot or lever-draw a heavy crossbow as fast as a Light, while weaker men have to use a winch on it.

 I think the issue here is more that the differences aren't really shown in Fantasy Craft.
A longbow loses 10ft on the range increments, but is otherwise the same AP, same threat range, same damage, and arguably (one less save but harder to damage in the first place) as resilient as the the light crossbow. It is also lighter, requires no more training than the crossbow, and is far more affordable.

  Foot Bow vs Heavy Crossbow; by the time you can afford the latter you could probably get that Forte, which you want anyways with your weapon class of choice. Heavy is far easier to deal with than multiple actions (which movement uses) to reload, the Threat's the same, and the damage is actually higher.

AP is not that hard to get, and the higher numbers tend to be superfluous, while higher damage would actually work. Getting DR that an arbalest can threaten requires heavy plate and the soldier class. dealing 1d6 no matter what the AP is all but cancelled by a light ranged-resist enchantment, and resist 10 ruins any bow-class weapon's day entirely, short of the foot bow IF it has archery mastery (at which point it might deal 2 damage).

Right now, the 'requires less training' just doesn't really match, nor does the higher damage. Not in the game.

Make'em 2 dice, or give load 1 to all the bows (which would rather make sense, but it would require reworking Hornet and Blackened Skies), and there's be more of a difference. Right now though, the crossbows are just inferior bows.

As for the ammo hopper: 10 shots then load 8 for a fresh one seems 'bout right to me. The less-than-most-bows threat range hurts'em but at least they get indirect (how the bows didn't is rather curious though).
« Last Edit: June 15, 2011, 02:22:44 PM by Nova » Logged
Crafty_Alex
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« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2011, 02:46:16 PM »

Fortunately, no one is forced to take crossbows as equipment Smiley
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Nova
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« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2011, 03:20:23 PM »

True, but if they didn't want to they wouldn't complain now would they!
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Oniya
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« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2011, 04:53:05 PM »

Thanks a lot for your responses. I think this gives me a better idea what crossbows should be used for, and also homebrewing to differentiate them a bit more if needed.
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Bill Whitmore
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« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2011, 09:49:00 PM »

I think you have a good idea on bow forte being needed for proficiency with most/all true bows...

This is basically what I did for the games I run.  The argument that bows took more training doesn't really hold up in the RAW where bows and crossbows take the exact same amount of training, namely a single proficiency, otherwise.

By adding the * to the long bow in the table it becomes an an exotic weapon and requires forte for proficiency.  It also fits a pattern.  A short bow is a non-exotic cavalry weapon while the Daikyu is a heavier hitting, exotic, cavalry weapon.  The reflex bow is a non-exotic footman's bow while the long bow is a heavier hitting, exotic, footman's bow.

It also means that characters with the most basic training now have to consider the crossbow as an option.  Compared to the reflex bow, crossbows have about double the range, more AP, and 2 to 3 time the crit range depending on whether they are using light or heavy crossbows.

This seemed like the easiest way to both drive home the "long Bows takes more training" argument while not nerfing dedicated archers at all, as they are already going to have the forte in bows anyways.
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« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2011, 12:36:03 AM »

I like this
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« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2011, 04:16:38 AM »

Me too,
Also Xbow vs. bow also not a problem is your era is Ancient.
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« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2011, 07:07:41 PM »

Totally house ruling the forte requirement for typical bows, simple and clean, Thanks!
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