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New shortbow combat-style trait?

posted Nov 28, 2012 08:39:04 by DanTrue
This is rather impressive:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2zGnxeSbb3g

It is with a 35 lb bow, so not a longbow or anything similar.. rather it is reminiscent of Turkish cavalry bows etc.

But it is rather impressive. Makes one think a bit where the line is drawn between "realistic combat style trait" and "splashbook skill".

- Dan
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23 replies
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bluefenix42 said Nov 28, 2012 09:11:12
Definitely fascinating. I would be interested to see a quantitative comparison of the accuracy and penetrating power he achieves with that technique versus other archery styles. There's also clearly a limit on how many consecutive shots you can make this way before needing to reach back to a quiver or other source of more arrows.

As a game mechanic, I would consider a combat style trait that reduces short bow load time by 1 action reasonably balanced. A Mysticism technique or other such spell could even be written to allow zero load time for any ranged weapon.
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DanTrue said Nov 28, 2012 09:30:26
As a game mechanic, I would consider a combat style trait that reduces short bow load time by 1 action reasonably balanced.


Hm, I would set the reload to 0, so that he could fire each CA - but at some penalty to the skill (to only make it effective at comparably short range - he makes a long range shot in the film, but I think the accuracy is drastically reduced), without any damage modifier (to reflect that he doesn't draw the string fully back) and to the limit of how many arrows he can have in his hand. This limit would either be set in stone or depend on his Combat Style and perhaps additional equipment.

- Dan
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bluefenix42 said Nov 28, 2012 10:02:39
Balance-wise, that sounds fine. I prefer to keep combat style traits simple and purely beneficial, as the examples in the book, but I can see the potential in one that does a trade-off like this, losing accuracy and damage in favor of rate of fire. It would certainly be suitable for a primarily DEX-based character, who wouldn't have much of a Damage Modifier anyway.

I presume they would still be allowed to apply the normal load time in order to take a shot without applying the penalties? Hmm....

Stop me before I waste an hour or more trying to calculate where the break-even point is between the two options in terms of expected damage per round of firing.
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DanTrue said Nov 28, 2012 10:14:21
Hehe, it does sound interesting yes. And yes, of course it is a choice, he can also fire normally.

I particularly like in the video how he is able to send off three arrows while simulating a jump/fall from a horse. Combined with a horse archer trait, this can be devastating.

- Dan
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AdamLundgren said Dec 06, 2012 00:05:21
Okey I did the math and and these are my results:

The average DPA (Damage per action), for a master archer with a shortbow is:
0: 1.16 1d2: 1.66 1d4: 2 1d6: 2,33

Using this trait without any modifiers the DPA would be:
0: 1.75 1d2: 2.5 1d4: 3 1d6: 3.5

Using this trait and considering it a hard action the DPA would be:
0: 1.17 1d2: 1.67 1d4: 2.01 1d6: 2.34

So from a pure balance perspective I see no reason to make it a hard action and removing the damage modifier, that would just make this trait a "bad" choice for anyone with a damage modifier.

I did not factor in crits, automatic misses, fumbles, special effects or any other factors to do these calculations and they are calculated with a combat skill of 100
[Last edited Dec 06, 2012 00:08:51]
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DanTrue said Dec 06, 2012 09:38:35
One should also consider that the arrows in the hand eventually runs out, forcing the character to draw a new lot from a quiver. I was thinking an ability to to this with crit-range number of arrows.

The reason for the hard check was so that you don't see a character doing this at very long ranges. It seems that he does loose some accuracy over that kind of distance - but I am not sure. But of course, hitting anything at long ranges is very hard anyways.

- Dan
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Manuele said Dec 06, 2012 09:51:34
maybe it is only a very good archer with acrobatics wich uses the fast reload special effect...

if he as 4 CA and reduces loading times to 1 he could fire 2 arrows in a round and being rapid reload stackable he could fire up to 4 arrows in a round.

In my opinion a prepared shot has at least a bonus level of success so this could well be all critical shots (targets arent dodging)

This videos are impressive but doing so in battle is quite another thing i don't think is so easy to hold the arrows like he does in the middle of a melee...
[Last edited Dec 06, 2012 09:52:05]
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DanTrue said Dec 06, 2012 10:23:56
maybe it is only a very good archer with acrobatics wich uses the fast reload special effect...

if he as 4 CA and reduces loading times to 1 he could fire 2 arrows in a round and being rapid reload stackable he could fire up to 4 arrows in a round.

I wouldn't categorise this guy as a 4-CA guy. He's a roleplayer, not a fitness guru. But the video isn't extremely detailed on this point. If I ever get the chance to speak with him, I definitely will (we move in the same circles).

This is clearly a technique that allows him to shoot as fast, not simply doing "what others do" just faster.

But, combining the combat style trait with acrobatics will definitely be a good idea. Being able to evade attacks and pushing arrows out left and right

This videos are impressive but doing so in battle is quite another thing i don't think is so easy to hold the arrows like he does in the middle of a melee...


Well, he shouldn't be doing this in melee distance to the enemy obviously. But in ranges of 5-15 metres I don't see why he shouldn't be able to do this. Comparing to some of the times I have fought in line combats or medieval reenactment fights, if there had been a guy 10-15 metres away from me doing this... we would have been peppered with arrows before we closed the distance. Unless of course we significantly outnumbered him - and not all these arrows may be deadly.

I think I would go with not giving the shots a penalty, but still removing damage modifier. The style clearly evolves around not drawing the string fully back - and it makes most sense not allowing a damage modifier then. Something like:

Fast Archery: When using a shortbow, the archer can hold up to his combat style crit range of arrows in his hand, quickly unleashing them in succession without drawing the string fully back. When doing this he does not apply his damage modifier to the shots, but effectively has a reload value of 0, so he can fire one arrow each AP. When he has unleashed all arrows prepared in his hand, it takes him 3 AP to prepare a new batch of arrows.

This doesn't allow firing 10 arrows in 4.9 seconds as he does in the video - but that is against a stationary targets in practice at short range. So, allowing for 3 arrows in ~5 seconds seems reasonable in a combat situation. And he is using a larp bow - a historical short bow will likely be at least twice as heavily drawn, 50-60 pounds versus his 25 pounds (which is the Danish limit on larp bows).

- Dan
[Last edited Dec 06, 2012 10:25:17]
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RangerDan said Dec 06, 2012 11:37:15
Fast Archery: When using a shortbow, the archer can hold up to his combat style crit range of arrows in his hand, quickly unleashing them in succession without drawing the string fully back. When doing this he does not apply his damage modifier to the shots, but effectively has a reload value of 0, so he can fire one arrow each AP. When he has unleashed all arrows prepared in his hand, it takes him 3 AP to prepare a new batch of arrows.

I like it. I would argue that not using the full bow draw actually reduces the size of the damage die (to a d4?), rather than removing the damage modifier. Otherwise the damage for an average strength archer (+0 DM) is the same regardless of if he uses the technique or not, which seems off. Similarly, a very strong archer might be able to pull deeper in the limited time before release than a weak archer. And in terms of complexity it seems equally easy to remember.
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DanTrue said Dec 06, 2012 11:57:37
I like it. I would argue that not using the full bow draw actually reduces the size of the damage die (to a d4?), rather than removing the damage modifier. Otherwise the damage for an average strength archer (+0 DM) is the same regardless of if he uses the technique or not, which seems off. Similarly, a very strong archer might be able to pull deeper in the limited time before release than a weak archer. And in terms of complexity it seems equally easy to remember.


Hm, so still applying dmg. mod, but with lesser dmg. dice. Hmm.. yeah, that could be it instead. So an archer using fast archery effectively does 3d4 damage in three rounds where a normal archer does 1d6.. It might be a better way of handling it than removing dmg. mod (which might also be negative ofc).

- Dan
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RangerDan said Dec 06, 2012 16:35:03
So an archer using fast archery effectively does 3d4 damage in three rounds where a normal archer does 1d6

Hmm double damage and triple the SEs against an unarmoured opponent. When you put it like that it seems a bit much.
Maybe it would be better to have Shortbow Fast Archery reduce the reload time to 1 (instead of 0) as long as the shooter has arrows in his hand. The shooter can still choose to use an SE on Rapid Reload and reduce reload time back to zero (we can assume the shooter in the video is doing this ^^ ). But then he would sacrifice an Impale or Choose Location. This is maybe more fun as the shooter has more valid options for SEs.
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DanTrue said Dec 06, 2012 16:39:07
Hmm double damage and triple the SEs against an unarmoured opponent. When you put it like that it seems a bit much.
Maybe it would be better to have Shortbow Fast Archery reduce the reload time to 1 (instead of 0) as long as the shooter has arrows in his hand. The shooter can still choose to use an SE on Rapid Reload and reduce reload time back to zero (we can assume the shooter in the video is doing this ^^ ). But then he would sacrifice an Impale or Choose Location. This is maybe more fun as the shooter has more valid options for SEs.


Hm.. Yes, that might be a way of going about it. Since his targets don't dodge or throw stuff at him, one could argue he gets a SE all the time... using it to reload faster. Doing something else means that his rythm has been momentarily broken to take that extra time to make the shot worthwhile.

- Dan
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bluefenix42 said Dec 06, 2012 18:31:26
Do note that if there is reduced damage, this special technique becomes rapidly less desirable as enemy Armor improves. This is because damage reduction from Armor is applied on each shot.

Just comparing the above mentioned 3d4 in a round versus 1d6: that's 7.5 average damage versus 3.5 average damage, against a target with Armor 0.

But against Armor 1, it becomes 3d4-3 versus 1d6-1: 4.5 average versus 2.5 average.

And against Armor 2, it's 3d4-6 versus 1d6-2: both average 1.5 damage.

At Armor 3, (which is not uncommon at all), the 1d6 is clearly preferred, and at Armor 4 or 5, the d4 can't even do damage.

Obviously, the numbers change if you include damage mod - 6d4 versus 1d6+1d4: average 15 versus 5. The break-even point on average damage is now at Armor 5 instead of Armor 2.

EDIT: Of course, using the Bypass Armor SE on a crit could change this, and firing 3 times as fast gives 3 times as many chances to crit (or fumble!)
[Last edited Dec 06, 2012 18:33:25]
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RangerDan said Dec 07, 2012 10:19:08
And against Armor 2, it's 3d4-6 versus 1d6-2: both average 1.5 damage.

Just a little math nitpick, but this is not really the right way to look at the effect of armour, simply because if you roll damage lower than the armour value, you do zero damage, not negative damage.

In practice against Armour 2, 3x 1d4 does average of 2.25 damage vs. 1.66 average done by 1x 1d6. So against Armour 2 the rapid fire is still significantly stronger.

Your point still stands of course, at higher armour values multiple attacks with a lower die become weaker, it's just not as fast as you might think. If you assume the Impale SE, which is fairly common with ranged attacks, even at 3 Armour the 1d6 is only marginally more effective than 3x 1d4. Damage Modifiers also benefit 3x 1d4 much more than 1x 1d6 for obvious reasons.

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bluefenix42 said Dec 07, 2012 17:20:53
Good point, RangerDan. I should have been more careful with that calculation.

If anyone else wants to dig into the math of this or other such dice comparisons, check out http://anydice.com/ - it calculates the distribution and average of any dice combination you want. It even has a very simple programming language that allows you to create functions, conditions, loops, and custom dice! Ever wanted to know the distribution or average of rolling a pair of 7-sided dice printed with the numbers {2,3,5,7,11,13,17}??? Well, AnyDice can do that!
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