Thursday, May 9, 2019

Strength Bows

Thanks to the suggested videos algorthms of YouTube, I discovered this series of videos on Medieval weapons and armor called Shadiversity. I'm no expert on the subject, so I don't know if this guy is just another blabbering blogger or if he knows his stuff, but some of what he's talked about concerning misconceptions of ancient and medieval weapons and armor matches things I've read or seen elsewhere, so maybe he's alright.

In the video I linked, he talks about bows [starting around the 17:30 mark, if you want to skip ahead to the bow segment], and how in lots of RPGs and fantasy games, they get bows wrong. Bows, he claims, aren't weapons for weak but agile characters. Crossbows are better for those sorts. Bows, to be most effective, require strength. Having done some archery when I was younger (one of those things I keep telling myself I'd like to get back into but always put off for another day), he's right. The fiberglass recurve bow I had as a kid launched the arrows relatively slowly. Hunting bows or military bows would need to be a lot more powerful to be useful. For target shooting, my old bow is fine (still have it back in the States, my boys get it out now and then). If I actually wanted to kill a dragon or some such, I'd need a lot stronger bow. Which would mean I'd need to develop my upper body strength a lot more (or use the modern "cheat" of pulleys for mechanical advantage).

3E had compound bows that could be made to deal extra damage if you were a strong character. 2E had them as well. I think that might be something for me to work back into my house rules. Besides, I've always liked the idea of a Thief with a crossbow over a Thief with a short bow anyway.


  1. Perhaps adding DEX bonus to attack rolls (reflecting hand-eye coordination needed to aim accurately), but STR bonus to damage. Then give Crossbows a flat damage bonus used in place of STR. That way, weaker characters will likely opt for the crossbow, while characters whose STR exceeds the crossbow's flat rate will opt for the bow (which also fires faster!)

    If you want to make strength even more of a crucial factor maybe change the damage from 1d6+STR to 1d4+(STR*2).

  2. I've always found LindyBeige's take on the strength to draw/hold a longbow amusing:

  3. Shad is generally knowledgeable about what he talks about, but a little long-winded. His series on realistic weapons cir fantasy races is pretty good if you can get through the whole thing. His castle videos are also pretty good. I prefer Loyd (lindybeige) or matt easton when talking about weapons or history though.

  4. Ditto to everything Lance Duncan said. Matt Easton knows a lot, and is required viewing.