21 August 2016

Attacking From A Distance: Missile Weapons

Self Bow: a simple bow made from a single piece of wood. The famed English longbow was a self bow, as are short bows. Seasoning of the wood notwithstanding, a self bow can be constructed in a day.

Longbow: a self bow with impressive range and penetrating power. Massed longbow fire is very demoralizing to all but the most disciplined of troops. These were as long as a man is tall.

Shortbow: or more simply bow that is simply a shorter self bow. A preferred missile weapon in dungeon environment, where the shorter length makes it easier to carry around in confined quarters. Less range but an equal rate of fire to the longbow. 

Composite Bow: (aka laminated bow) similar in appearance to the self bow but constructed of horn, wood, and sinew laminated together. Size, range, penetrating power are similar to the self bow, but these are more sensitive to moisture. Composite bows require a week to construct.

Recurved Bow: a bow with limbs that curve away from the archer when unstrung. Recurve bows grant greater power in a shorter bow and are popular with archers in confining terrain such as brush or forest. Recurved bows are also popular with mounted archers such as Turcopoles. A disadvantage of the recurve bow is that is makes more noise when used. If the recurve is extreme, the bow can be quite unstable while being strung.

Crossbows: a stock with a crossarm that is cocked either by hand or with a mechanism, firing a quarrel (or bolt) when the trigger is pulled. Crossbows removed the need for the years of training the longbow required, basically changing the way battles were fought (though not to the degree firearms did later).

Crossbow, Heavy: likely intended by the game's authors to be cranequin (hand cranked), or windlass (foot stirrup and cranked with both hands) type weapons. This would grant greater penetrating power against better armored opponents, but with the disadvantage of a lower rate of fire.

Crossbow, Light: smaller crossbows with pull or push levers. Typified by a higher rate of fire but with a shorter range and less penetrating power than a heavy crossbow.

Hand Crossbow: (or pistol crossbow) this is the smallest of crossbows and is intended to be fired with one hand and rapidly reloaded. Pistol crossbows sacrifice range and penetrating power in the name of portability.

Stone Bows: bows and crossbows of any type but constructed to shoot lead bullets or rocks. Primarily used for hunting wildfowl, these usually have a double string with a pouch between the strings to hold the projectile. Also referred to in modern terminology as pellet bows. Stone bows are more commonly found in areas in our campaign lacking wood (or good types of wood) and thus usually resemble composite weapons more than self. 

Bow Strings: hemp, flax, or silk.

Bowstaves: yew was the preferred wood for the English longbow, but woods such as ash, elm, and others were also in wide use.

Arrows: poplar, ash, beech, and hazel.

Bolts: (or quarrels) the arrow-like projectiles fired by crossbows, typically constructed of the same types of wood. These are shorter but heavier than arrows.

Other Missile Weapons: 

Dwarven Bolt Rifle: a curious bit of equipment, the bolt rifle resembles a heavy crossbow but lacks the crossarm. Bolt rifles are cocked with a lever and fire a mundane crossbow quarrel, which is magically propelled without a bowstring. The actual propulsive force or mechanism is unknown. Range, rate of fire, and damage are all as the heavy crossbow. These are carried by Dwarven Elite Heavy Infantry, anyone else seen carrying one of these is considered an enemy of all dwarves.

Slings: a simple projectile weapon used to throw a lead bullet or stone. This is an effective weapon in the hands of a skilled user. Missile troops equipped with slings are referred to as Peltasts.

Sling Ammunition: lead bullets, clay, well-rounded stones.

Special Sling Ammunition: lead bullets with drilled holes thought to contain poison. These could be used to produce an intimidating whistling sound when hurled, at the coss of less damage.

Knife: usually a last defense type of missile weapon, though knives specifically designed for throwing are formidable weapons at closer ranges.

Hand Axe: similar to the knife, the axe may be used as both melee and missile weapon.

Rocks: short range and varying weights make these a last choice. Advantages are they are still a ranged weapon and the supplies of same are often quite plentiful.

Spear: spears are usually intended for either melee or missile. In our campaign the former are referred to as spears and the latter as javelins (or sometimes just throwing spears). Either can be used as missile weapons but we grant a longer range and higher rate of fire to javelins.

Darts: not modern day pub darts, these are the same as javelins in our home campaign.

Bolas: a missile weapon consisting of weights on the end of interconnected cords. These are favored by brawlers in our campaign, as they are meant to immobilize and incapacitate rather than kill. Number, size, and weight of the weighted ends varies widely, but a good bola will stop and temporarily neutralize a fully grown adult human.

Blow Guns: (aka dart guns, needle guns) long tubes of wood with plain or fletched darts, primarily used for hunting game rather than as weapons of war. Blow guns are associated with assassins and poison in our campaign. At best, reactions from Lawful types to anyone openly carrying one of these will be at a large penalty. At worst the local assassin's guild will be hunting down the rogue agent operating on our turf, and they are not known for their kindness and understanding.

Boomerangs: are throwing sticks of two types, returning and non-returning. The former were used as hunting aids, primarily to decoy birds or scare up small game. The latter were used as killing weapons.

Anything Else: anything that can be picked up and thrown will be given the range of hand-hurled rock and damage as an improvised weapon. Rate of fire will likely be once per round, circumstances allowing.


  1. This is great stuff. I was in a shakespeare play where a stone bow was mentioned and never knew what it was.

    1. Good ol' "Bill" Shakespeare! I like stone bows because they're exotic without being to weird (as in "there no way you could use that!" kind of weird). Thanks for your comment.