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BlackBat242 February 8th, 2010 10:15 PM

Nearly everyone I played with (1E & 2E) for 27 years has required stringing a bow to take the full round before it is ready to use... and cannot be done on a mount, so if you have to dismount as well...

That is why most of the characters I have that relied on a bow got a second one (usually a short composite bow) to keep strung and ready while mounted, and a long bow/long comp bow kept unstrung for ground use.

Most DMs allowed the same arrows to be used from all bows, but a couple (2E types) make short bows and long bows use different arrows.

What is your opinion on that, Steve?

I can see it for "exceptional strength" bows... I do real-life archery, and know that arrows are normally made ("spined", referring to how much it flexes when fired) for a specific range of draw strength, with an under-spined arrow more likely to break when fired and an overspined one being less accurate (as well as shorter-ranged due to being heavier), but if your draw length is the same with both types of bows, and the draw weights of the bows are the same or close, the same arrows should be used in both bows.

the angle February 10th, 2010 03:27 PM

If you choose to use them in your campaign, then the "Options" books such as Combat & Tactics (and, to a lesser degree, the PHBRs and DMGRs) supersede the core rulebooks. For example, if you choose to use the Complete Fighter's Handbook in your campaign, then where it conflicts with the PHB, you would go with what's in the CFH. A DM could allow or reject things on a case-by-case basis if he wants, but it's easier to just say "all in" or "all out."

With that in mind, it's not really a question of rationalizing what's in one book in light of what's in another. You defer to one or the other, not both.

On strength bows: Any type of bow can be made to compensate for high strength, not just composite bows. In the A&E Guide, you'll note that the paragraph on using a bracer to protect your wrist is also under composite bows, but it clearly applies to all types of bows. Although I must say, I like the game effect of restricting it to composite bows. That would have been a good change then, and it's a good one now.

It's worth noting that the A&E Guide's discussion of strength bows only mentions the Str bonus to damage, not to hit. But then the C&T Options book goes back to talking about Str bonuses to attack and damage. Clearly there was confusion even within the ranks at TSR (Rich Baker confirmed to me that he doesn't think Str bonuses applied to bow attack rolls, yet he wrote much of the C&T Options book, so go figure).

But ...

Zeb got back to me on the Str+Dex question, and here's what he had to say:

"I'm going by memory here, but I'm sure To Hit bonuses were meant to be split between Str = melee, Dex = ranged. I seem to remember that Str could affect damage (the assumption the character could use a stronger pull bow). Do I have any concrete proof of all this? No, but I do know my design preferences so I'm basing it on those. I certainly don't remember anyone arguing that Dex + Str should apply."

So we're back to having no idea how no one caught the PHB going in the opposite direction. I don't recall this point ever being raised at the time, as a suggestion, a complaint, or even a question. I'm utterly baffled. It would be interesting if someone could pore through old Sage Advice columns and see whether this ever came up there.

Steve

Matthew- February 10th, 2010 03:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the angle (Post 343751)
If you choose to use them in your campaign, then the "Options" books such as Combat & Tactics (and, to a lesser degree, the PHBRs and DMGRs) supersede the core rulebooks. For example, if you choose to use the Complete Fighter's Handbook in your campaign, then where it conflicts with the PHB, you would go with what's in the CFH. A DM could allow or reject things on a case-by-case basis if he wants, but it's easier to just say "all in" or "all out."

With that in mind, it's not really a question of rationalizing what's in one book in light of what's in another. You defer to one or the other, not both.

Indeed, though there was actually a Sage Advice column where Zeb was reported as saying that the optional books never superseded the default rules (this was over the issue of the samurai kit being required to specialise in both the bow and sword, when fighters could only specialise in one weapon), but I think the point was they never supersede their default status. I definitely recall Skip Williams in a Sage Advice column saying that the specialisation rules in C&T and S&P could not be mixed.

Quote:

Originally Posted by the angle (Post 343751)
Although I must say, I like the game effect of restricting it to composite bows. That would have been a good change then, and it's a good one now.

Could you explain what you mean by this? What would be the good effect of doing so? Keeping the price high?

Quote:

Originally Posted by the angle (Post 343751)
So we're back to having no idea how no one caught the PHB going in the opposite direction. I don't recall this point ever being raised at the time, as a suggestion, a complaint, or even a question. I'm utterly baffled. It would be interesting if someone could pore through old Sage Advice columns and see whether this ever came up there.

Very interesting. It might also be worth looking through a few modules for example NPCs and seeing whether there was a discernible split by author/editor in the methodology. Thanks for looking into this!

the angle February 10th, 2010 04:34 PM

Quote:

Could you explain what you mean by this? What would be the good effect of doing so? Keeping the price high?
That was in reference to whether only composite bows can take advantage of high Str scores. As it is, the only niche served by composite bows is the one where you pay more and get less. If normal bows never allowed Str-based damage bonuses but composite bows did, then composite bows would have some shine and characters would have a reason to lust after them.

Steve

Matthew- February 10th, 2010 05:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the angle (Post 343759)
That was in reference to whether only composite bows can take advantage of high Str scores. As it is, the only niche served by composite bows is the one where you pay more and get less. If normal bows never allowed Str-based damage bonuses but composite bows did, then composite bows would have some shine and characters would have a reason to lust after them.

You mean for strength values 16-18, excluding exceptional strength, which would then require multiplied costs as usual? [i.e. something for composite bows at the cost of 100 GP]. I cannot say that I agree, as I think that tilts the balance too far in the other direction [e.g. now why would any fighter with a strength of 16+ ever bother with a non-composite long bow, 25 GP? Maybe at level one, assuming he has no concerns about proficiency]. It also becomes an "adventurers only" weapon, in the sense that no right thinking patron is going to equip his army with composite long bows over long bows (unless perhaps his men all have a strength of 16+, which I suppose is campaign dependent), unlike the relationship between short bows, composite short bows, and long bows where the trade off is fairly clear [i.e. if you have the money, foot archers go with long bows, horse archers go with composite short bows, and if you don't then it is short bows for everyone]. I think if the composite long bow could be used from horseback (which was the original intent, I believe, being modelled on the daikyu), then this would be a none issue on the whole.

[edit] looking through my copy of Supplement I: Greyhawk, it seems that the following applied:

Short Bow: Cost 25, Range 15, Damage 1-6
Horse Bow: Cost ??, Range 18, Damage 1-6
Long Bow: Cost 40, Range 21, Damage 1-6
Composite Bow: Cost 50, Range 24, Damage 1-6

So, perhaps the cost is just a holdover from that, though the Japanese bow in Chain Mail is treated as a long bow and can be used from horseback.


Ahah!

Dragon #204, p. 81.
Quote:

Here’s a question on a solid topic; namely, a rock. Is a rock (a really big one, mind you) considered a thrown missile weapon when it is pushed off a ledge to drop onto a target below? If it was, then the attacker would get Strength bonuses to the attack and damage rolls, right?

The strength bonus to attack and damage rolls do apply to thrown missiles. A rock dropped or pushed off a ledge, however, is not a thrown missile, no matter how big or small the rock is. To qualify for the bonus, a missile must be propelled solely by a character’s muscle power, or by a specially constructed bow. “Sage Advice previously has recommended that only composite bows should be allowed to grant strength bonuses to missile attacks, but this is not official.
So, Skip Williams clearly knew about this rule in April 1994 (though this is an April Fool's issue). I will see if I can turn up this earlier reference, but while we're at this:

Dragon #214, p. 78.
Quote:

Would a thief’s backstabbing attack always qualify as an ambush as defined on page 111 of the Player’s Handbook? What about surprise? Would the thief automatically gain surprise if she wasn’t seen and made a successful move silently roll?

The penalties for being ambushed (no chance for a return attack and roll for surprise to see if the ambusher gets a another free round of attacks with surprise) do not always apply to the victim of a thief’s backstab attack. To qualify as an ambush, the ambusher must be aware of her victim and prepare her attack ahead of time. In addition, the target must be unable to detect the foe prior to the attack.

For example, a thief who hears a monster approaching, successfully hides in shadows until the monster passes, then successfully moves silently and closes to the attack probably deserves to be credited with an ambush. On the other hand, a thief who turns a corner and finds herself facing an opponent’s unguarded back should be allowed to make a backstab attack, but cannot stage an ambush. Technically, a thief must surprise an opponent before she can claim any backstab bonuses (see PHB, page 40); that is, the backstab requires surprise, it does not guarantee it. Note that an unseen thief who makes a successful move silently roll has an extra chance to achieve surprise, see DMG, table 57, page 102; the target should suffer a -2 penalty for the thief’s silent movement and very likely an additional -2 for not seeing the thief lurking behind.

In any case, most DMs I know dispense with the surprise roll and allow a backstab anytime a thief makes an attack from behind against an opponent who is unaware of the thief and has no compelling reason to suspect a rear attack. In such cases, I still recommend a normal surprise roll. If the victim is surprised, the thief gets two attacks before there is an initiative roll. The thief’s first attack gains the backstab bonuses and the second attack is a normal rear attack. If the surprise roll fails, the thief is assumed to win initiative and gets the backstab bonuses for the first attack and the victim and turn around and return the attack if she survives.

Supplement Four February 10th, 2010 06:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matthew- (Post 343760)
You mean for strength values 16-18, excluding exceptional strength, which would then require multiplied costs as usual?

Since this will be decided by DM's rule only, I was thinking of doing this and giving composite bows "some shine" as Steve says.

Normal bows can have STR bonus, if they're strung for such STR rating, up to STR 18.

Composite bows are required to be strung for exceptional STR.



This might have some interesting consequences, too, if you play with the A&E advice that Composite longbows should only be used in oriental-flavor games. A fighter with 18/53 STR could have a composite short bow strung for him, or he'd have to go with a normal long bow strung for STR 18.

Matthew- February 10th, 2010 07:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Supplement Four (Post 343767)
Since this will be decided by DM's rule only, I was thinking of doing this and giving composite bows "some shine" as Steve says. Normal bows can have STR bonus, if they're strung for such STR rating, up to STR 18. Composite bows are required to be strung for exceptional STR.

I think Steve's suggestion makes more sense (assuming I understand it correctly), since it would mean:

Quote:

Composite Long Bow: 100 GP, SZ L, SF 7, D 1-6, R 60/120/210
Special: Strength Bonuses of 16-18 may be applied; may use Sheaf Arrows

Long Bow: 75 GP, SZ L, SF 8, D 1-6, R 70/140/210
Special: May use Sheaf Arrows

Composite Short Bow: 75 GP, SZ M, SF 6, D 1-6, R 50/100/180
Special: Strength Bonuses of 16-18 may be applied.

Short Bow: 30 GP, SZ M, SF 7, D 1-6, R 50/100/150

...which looks pretty reasonable on paper, regardless of which bows may then be built for strength at increased costs. However, I still think that the 25 GP would be more than justified if it enabled the use of the composite bow from horseback, sidestepping most of the strength issues and providing a reason for their use en masse.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Supplement Four (Post 343767)
This might have some interesting consequences, too, if you play with the A&E advice that composite longbows should only be used in oriental-flavor games. A fighter with 18/53 STR could have a composite short bow strung for him, or he'd have to go with a normal long bow strung for STR 18.

Whilst I support the idea of campaign flavour, I am not particularly sold on the idea of restricting strength bows by locality in that way. I tracked down the reference Skip Williams was making above:

Dragon 142, p. 71
Quote:

What exactly is a composite bow? Why should a character buy one? In the AD&D game, a long bow costs less and shoots farther than even a long composite bow.

A composite bow is made up of layers or wood, bone, and sinew (this is the “composite ”). They are more difficult to make than a one-piece bow (often called a self bow), hence the greater cost. Composite bows offer two advantages over self bows: They are more powerful for their size; a long self bow is longer than a man is tall; a long composite bow has about the same range but is only about 4’ long. Composite bows can be specially built to allow for strength bonuses. One local campaign figures the cost of such special bows as equal to the base cost for the bow plus an equal amount per bonus point of damage, so that a bow allowing + 1 hp damage for a 16 or 17 strength is twice normal cost, a bow allowing +2 hp damage (18 strength) is triple the cost, etc.
So it looks like he was in fact correcting in April 1994 some erroneous information "recommended" in February 1989. Clearly, though, in 1989 he thought that a) only composite bows could be built for strength, and b) only the damage bonus was applied, so he was of like mind at that time with Steve.

The author of "Bowmanship Made More meaningful: A Long Bow isn't Always a Strong Bow" (Dragon #58) takes a different approach. On the other hand, "Bazaar of the Bizzare: Bow Built for Strength" (Dragon 127) clearly states the rules from the DMG, but then only includes damage adjustments in the table.

I have been through Sage Advice issues #135-250, and used the database collated here for issues #01-134; I also used DragonDex for a more general article search.

Supplement Four February 10th, 2010 08:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matthew- (Post 343780)
Whilst I support the idea of campaign flavour, I am not particularly sold on the idea of restricting strength bows by locality in that way.

What are you going to use in your game?









Quote:

Composite Long Bow: 100 GP, SZ L, SF 7, D 1-6, R 60/120/210
Special: Strength Bonuses of 16-18 may be applied; may use Sheaf Arrows

Long Bow: 75 GP, SZ L, SF 8, D 1-6, R 70/140/210
Special: May use Sheaf Arrows

Composite Short Bow: 75 GP, SZ M, SF 6, D 1-6, R 50/100/180
Special: Strength Bonuses of 16-18 may be applied.

Short Bow: 30 GP, SZ M, SF 7, D 1-6, R 50/100/150
In looking at this, I start to see differences in composite bows and normal bows without the STR bonus being used (speed factor and extra damage with the sheaf arrows).

What I'm wondering is: Is it reasonable to figure that a normal bow can be strung for such great STR? We know a composite bow can as it's very design is composed of different materials. But, can a normal bow?

I was thinking that a normal bow could...but with limits (Max 18 STR, as I suggested above).





So, if you're a Thief with 16 STR, you could find a normal short bow strung for that STR rating, getting +1 damage. If the Thief switches to a show composite bow, strung for STR 16, he gets the +1 damage, plus the better speed factor, plus the extra range.

Composite bows are definitely "shining" if you look at it that way.



The fighter with the 17 STR could use a normal long bow strung for STR 17, getting +1 attack and +1 damage. If composite long bows are allowed in the game (not relegated to only oriental flavor campaigns), then he gives up some range but gains the ability to use sheaf arrows and has a lower speed factor.



The fighter with the exceptional 18/74 STR can really only take advantage of his STR bonus using a composite bow. The most a normal bow can be rated for is STR 18.



I think that works quite nicely.

Supplement Four February 10th, 2010 08:49 PM

I sent these working points about bows out to my players via e-mail.



1. Any bow may be strung for a specific STR rating, STR 16-18.

2. Unless otherwise noted, bows default to a STR 10-11 rating.

3. Composite bows (only) can be strung for exceptional strength, STR 18/01-18/00.

4. Composite longbows are very rare. Note that a normal longbow has better Short and Medium range numbers than the composite longbow. A composite longbow is shorter, and easier to carry, than a normal longbow.

5. Composite bows have better speed factors.

6. Sheaf arrows can only be used with longbows. All bows use flight arrows.

7. The composite short bow has better range than the normal short bow.

8. Bows strung for a STR rating of 16-18 can be used by any character, regardless of STR, but a STR bonus cannot be obtained higher than the character's own STR rating (Thus, a character with STR 12 can use a bow strung for STR 17, but no STR bonus is used).

9. Composite bows rated for exceptional STR 18/01+ cannot be used by characters with a lower STR rating unless a successful bend bars/lift gates throw is made.

Matthew- February 10th, 2010 08:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Supplement Four (Post 343782)
What are you going to use in your game?

Same as usual; drop composite bows as a discrete weapon class and have bow: "short (up to strength 12), long (strength 13-15), great (strength 16-17)". Advanced rules allow each of those bows can be built to be a higher (or even lower) grade, which may involve composite construction, and different degrees of quality (+1 to hit, or +1 to damage, or both). I use the classic attribute spread, which makes things easier on that front (no exceptional strength). So, something like:

Short Bow: R 50/100/150, D 1-6 (strength 9-12).
Long Bow: R 60/120/180, D 2-7 (strength 13-15).
Great Bow: R 70/140/210, D 3-8 (strength 16-17).

...with heavy versions of each bow being equivalent to the next grade.


I forgot to post this other Sage Advice entry, though it is in fact word for word almost the same as the above:

Dragon #137, p. 68.
Quote:

The rules say that fighters can get their strength bonuses with special bows. What kind of bows apply, and how much do they cost?

This is up to the DM, but we suggest that you require a composite bow. One local campaign figures the cost of such special bows using the base cost for the bow plus an additional and equal cost per bonus point of damage. Thus, getting the +1 hp damage for a 16 strength requires a bow of twice-normal cost, a +3 (for 18/ 01 strength) is triple-normal cost, etc. Another version of this type of bow is described in DRAGON issue #127, page 27.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Supplement Four (Post 343782)
In looking at this, I start to see differences in composite bows and normal bows without the STR bonus being used (speed factor and extra damage with the sheaf arrows). What I'm wondering is: Is it reasonable to figure that a normal bow can be strung for such great STR? We know a composite bow can as it's very design is composed of different materials. But, can a normal bow? I was thinking that a normal bow could...but with limits (Max 18 STR, as I suggested above).

Yes, it perfectly reasonable. The long bow is actually a natural composite because of the wood used, and can have a slight reflex, so that the current champion has a pull of 150-180 lbs. There is no significant difference between composite bows and self long bows.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Supplement Four (Post 343782)
So, if you're a Thief with 16 STR, you could find a normal short bow strung for that STR rating, getting +1 damage. If the Thief switches to a show composite bow, strung for STR 16, he gets the +1 damage, plus the better speed factor, plus the extra range. Composite bows are definitely "shining" if you look at it that way.

Yes, composite short bows are much better than ordinary short bows and about on par with long bows.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Supplement Four (Post 343782)
The fighter with the 17 STR could use a normal long bow strung for STR 17, getting +1 attack and +1 damage. If composite long bows are allowed in the game (not relegated to only oriental flavour campaigns), then he gives up some range but gains the ability to use sheaf arrows and has a lower speed factor. The fighter with the exceptional 18/74 STR can really only take advantage of his STR bonus using a composite bow. The most a normal bow can be rated for is STR 18.

I think that works quite nicely.

It seems logical enough, it just means composite long bows are "adventurer only" weapons. As I say, I think if they are usable from horseback the problem of 25 GP rapidly goes away.


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