Thursday, February 07, 2013

New archery magic items

The dust from the fallen cover stone begins to settle and reveals a room lit from small openings high on the roof. As the dust clears the shiny magical bow is easily seen in the center of the room. Looking at it there, on the spot it has been for the last two thousand years brings a rush of excitement and makes your heart beat faster. What powers does it hold?

The party's members begin to inch forward. Who will hold the legendary bow or Lark'tu? Who has the might and will to use it? Legend says only the gods can pull on its mighty string and that its arrows can span oceans and still hit their targets.

As our brave adventurers step forward to the bow I take a moment to look at bows from a different angle. How are magic bows affected by multiple attribute dependent weapon design? In my article regarding MAD  weapons I pointed out the benefits of multiple attribute dependencies. In particular the benefits of MAD weapons to MAD characters. By making weapons leverage many attributes instead of the classic DEX or STR as a GM you can benefit certain classes in particular while hindering others.

In my recent post Building my characters bow I presented a new way of seeing bows. These are no longer the classic: short, short composite, long and long composite (if this even exists!). Instead bow attributes are based on draw weight and arrow weight. This gives a great deal of flexibility in the design of the bow. It can be custom built to the main attributes of the character. Maybe the character is not so strong so a lighter less damaging, but faster bow, would be called for. A very strong warrior might want to leverage his strength, pull heavily on the bow to increase damage and range.

As draw weight, damage, range and rate of fire become variables to play with I begin to think in all the possibilities that open up in regards to magical bows. Here are some examples:

  • The magical bows add strength bonuses to the character. For example a +2 STR 100 lb bow. It will make the character stronger, but it still requires a great deal of strength to use. So weak characters won't be able to use it because they simply can't pull 100 lbs., even with the +2 STR bonus.
  • The magical bow improve aim, giving a +1 to hit, but given Era's damage mechanism, a hit does not ensure damage. Damage and soak rolls have to be done. If the target's armor is too good an aim bonus won't be enough, the bow still needs a powerful fighter to pull on it.
  • Since damage drops by range, a magical bow can have an improved range. Making it more effective against armor at farther distances. Nonetheless, given the damage and soak mechanics, its benefits will wear out over longer distances. The magical bonus is only effective at close range.
  • The bow has magically enhanced pull, that means that a 50 lb bow will behave as an 80 lb bow. This will be an 80 lb bow for all practical purposes except fatigue. It enjoys the lower DynE of a lighter bow so the archer fatigues slower. This will allow the archer to let off more arrows per round. This can be a very significant improvement against close range knights. An extra arrow hitting the target may be the difference between life or death.
  • Arrows may have magically altered weight. The behave like heavier arrows, but can be fired from lighter bows with lower strength. This gives the benefits of added range and damage without the limitations of character strength or endurance.
So the more attributes that come into play when using a weapon the more interesting and personalized the magic item can become. As a GM I can fit the weapon to a particular character in the party or leave it altogether inaccessible to any of the members. Maybe they need to complete another quest to gain higher strength and then be able to use this bow. Nonetheless MAD magical bows open up a lot of possibilities.

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