Welcome back to War Talk! Building on our discussion on Wednesday about kiting, today we will discuss the bow and arrow. Bows are weapons that have been around since prehistory, and were originally used as a hunting implement. A bow at its most basic, is a bent stick with string tied between it. However, over the years they have been refined into one of the most iconic weapons of war.
In most TTRPGs (including heavy hitters such as D&D), there are three primary types of bows – longbows, short bows, and crossbows. Longbows and short bows are typically simple sticks with string in varying sizes. Some of the most common examples include the Welsh and English longbow, which won notoriety during the 100 Years War. Simple versions of these bows can be used by most people, typically in massed volley fire, but the English took great care to train their bowman to exacting specifications.
The biggest difference in many TTRPGs is the range of the weapons. In Dungeons and Dragons for example, the longbow boasts farther range and a better rate of fire without a feat investment, while crossbows are among the highest ranged damage weapons in the game. Longbows also boast an impressive range of 300 feet (or more) in game.
Aside from the three previously mentioned, there are other types of bows as well. One such type I’d like to spotlight is the composite bow, common among Mongol, Parthian, and Hunnic armies. These shorter bows could be easily fired and reloaded while mounted. Though match the range of fire as some of the other bows, the composite bow could pierce armor, and assisted with the momentum of the rider. The way I present these weapons in my home-brew game is by replacing the damage they deal as 2d4 rather than the standard 1d8. This is a great way to reflect the extra punch of the bow, and give your ranger or archer something that stands apart from the standard offerings!
Do you have a tactic or weapon you’d like to see featured on this blog? Let me know in the comments below!