Why crossbow over bow?

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Woe
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Why crossbow over bow?

Post Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:46 pm

Looking at crossbows and bows, I'm not sure why anyone other than a traditionalist dwarf would choose a crossbow. Comparing the smaller versions:

Light crossbow: 30gp, 1d6 damage, 7# weight, 2sp/bolt. 0.5 ROF. Max range 180'
Shortbow: 25gp, 1d6 damage, 2# weight, 1sp/arrow. 1.0 ROF. Max range 150'

The crossbow's ammo cost is double, and the rate of fire is halved.

The heavy version has an even wider gap:
Heavy crossbow: 50gp, 1d8 damage, 14# weight, 4sp/bolt. 0.3 ROF. Max range 240'
Longbow: 60gp, 1d8 damage, 3# weight, 2sp/arrow. 1.0 ROF. Max range 210'

Other than dwarves not being able to use longbows but able to use heavy crossbows, what am I missing?
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Kilian HP 20/20 AC 19 (18 no shield)
Talin HP 29 AC 16
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Bruce HP 20/20 AC 16 (15 no shield)

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Longman
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Re: Why crossbow over bow?

Post Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:55 pm

I am preparing some combat rules for our game, for this exact reason.

In my system, the point of a light crossbow is that you CAN have it as an offhand weapon and then switch from crossbow to melee as a free action.

It still takes a round to reload, though. Effectively it's a one shot combat sidearm.

Crossbowman fires, then picks up melee weapon and is ready for combat next round. You can't do that with a bow.

Or, melee fighter gets one crossbow shot without having to swap weapons while bad guy runs away. Again, you can't do that with a bow.

Without something like this, I agree that there is little point in the crossbow.

The reason why you'd have a heavy crossbow is for higher damage. I think maybe 2d4+1. In my new rules, they will also take 1 round to reload but switching weapons would not be a free action.
seandon4
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Re: Why crossbow over bow?

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:27 am

The light crossbow requires two hands to load, but only one to fire.

The heavy crossbow fires further than any other weapon.
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Why crossbow over bow?

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:21 am

The crossbow was created as an answer to the longbow. The crossbow doesn't require the lifetime training, physical strength and expertise to operate with any efficiency that the longbow though. It is an inferior weapon to the crossbow, but the death of a crossbowman isn't as costly as the death of an Longbowman. Untrained minions can be trained to use the crossbow in a very short time.

That is why the crossbow exists. For normal people, MUs and others who haven't spent a lifetime in the pursuit of the marshal arts.
saskganesh
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Re: Why crossbow over bow?

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:42 am

I see it as a standard weapon for NPCs who haven't spent a lot of time training. Or it first their cultural background. PCs usually choose bow.

I do allow MUs to use a crossbow. But in practise, they try it, and discard it for something simple with a higher rate of fire, like a sling.

It's easy to carry/keep loaded. It's a good one shot sniper weapon and in sieges where there's walls and hard cover to hide behind.It's good in trap making. And in settings with low ceilings (like a dungeon) the bolts fire straight and do not need to arc like a bows at long distances.

Oh and crossbow makes for much better ersatz clubs.
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hurcheon
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Re: Why crossbow over bow?

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:29 am

As said above, with a crossbow you can keep it loaded and ready without much effort, you can't do that with a bow.

You can fire prone. It has a flatter trajectory than a bow (though it does dip on loosing) and can be fired from a hidden position

It is a good weapon to quickly train troops, but that is real life, not RPGs
seandon4
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Re: Why crossbow over bow?

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:36 am

Yeah, officially MU's cannot use crossbows except at -5 to hit; I'm not sure the rationale. I'd say an MU could at least fire a pre-loaded one. The BF Magic User Options supplement has an option to allow it, but some do not.
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Why crossbow over bow?

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:41 am

A good demostration of the use of crossbows by an adventurer/warrior is Madmartigan at Tir Asleen in the movie Willow.
Woe
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Re: Why crossbow over bow?

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:13 am

My question was more about the core game mechanics than history. Both thieves and fighters can use both; clerics and MUs can use neither. Neither have strength requirements -- the longbow has a height requirement which excludes halflings and dwarves, but that's it. The extra range might allow for one extra shot, but doesn't compensate for the slower rate of fire. I'm still looking at this the same way -- double the cost for half the stopping power.
Freya HP 24/24 AC 16 (17 two weapons)
Kilian HP 20/20 AC 19 (18 no shield)
Talin HP 29 AC 16
Tiana HP 11 AC 12 SP 8/8
Fido HP 9/9 AC 16
Anna HP 12/12 AC 15 (19 defensively)
Bruce HP 20/20 AC 16 (15 no shield)

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Red Oak loot
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dymondy2k
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Re: Why crossbow over bow?

Post Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:28 am

Yeah I can understand the whys of this one as well.. Only way to make it a usable weapon would be to unfetter it from the class restrictions list. Otherwise its a more expensive, crappier bow.
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