Monday, June 17, 2013

Building my character's bow - Part 3 Combat

This article has been a long time in the making, but finally I can get around to show the new bow rules in Imperium & Maleficium (I&M). In my two previous articles The Range and The Damage I went over the design of the mechanics and weapon models. The idea behind such a rule restructure is to create distinctive bows depending on character attributes without adding extra rules and complexity to the game. I&M already has a fatigue system which will be leveraged to provide a distinctive rate of fire for each character based on their constitution. Instead of one or two attacks per round, characters get a number of attacks equal to their dexterity / 2. Attacks can be converted to parries and dodges in case of hand to hand combat, but at long range there's no risk of a sword swing, so all actions go into putting arrows in the air and stopping the enemy before it gets too close.

Meet our heroes. To the left the mounted archer. Of medium build the mounted archer is fast on his horse. Leading his mount with his knees he has both hands free to fire at his targets. He will approach the enemies, discharge as many arrows as possible and ride away.

To the right, the English longbowman. A lifelong training has produced one of the most powerful and feared bowmen of all times. Using a very heavy longbow the Englishman is able to deliver very heavy and deadly arrows to his enemies. His bow is strong enough to propel arrows through the heaviest of armors.

Last but not least, to the left the rogue. A woman of great agility, but low strength. Her skills are stealth and surprise is the key to her success. She's not very strong, but her agility allows for quick reflexes, good aim and a rapid rate of fire.

Each character has different strengths and weaknesses and faces different opponents. It makes sense for them to have different weapons. As a player you want to leverage the strong points of your character and find a niche were your character is most effective. To do so you need specially designed bows for each type of character and a set of rules that help you make the best of this during gameplay.

The mounted archer carries a composite bow, small and strong it allows him to lead the horse and fire at the same time. The Englishman uses a longbow, one taller than himself and with enormous pull. It requires all of his strength to fire, but delivers the deadliest shots. The rogue, not favored with strength must use her dexterity to her advantage in combat.

Let us give them attributes to work with (remember dexterity / 2 = number of attacks ):

Mounted archer
strength : 14
constitution : 15
dexterity : 13

With this dexterity the mounted archer can put up to 6 arrows in the air during a round. His strength isn't very high and his targets are usually not heavily armored. A lighter bow with heavy arrows would fit him well.

English longbowman
strength : 17
constitution : 14
dexterity : 13

The Englishman can put 6 arrows in the air during a round. Given his strength it is convenient to have the highest pull possible, thus the usage of the longbow. His constitution is high, but the workload of pulling that bow is also elevated. It is possible he will fatigue before the max amount of arrows deliverable by his dexterity.

strength : 13
constitution : 15
dexterity : 17

The rogue is quicker than all the rest, her dexterity grants her up to 8 arrows per round, but her strength only allows her the usage of bows of lesser pull. She'll gamble on aim and rate of fire. She won't be able to take armored targets, but that's not what she usually comes upon, and if she does she can pull a called shot to the head and take the target out quietly.

Now lets look at the weapons. Three heroes, three bows. One for the strong Englishman, one for the riding archer and one for the stealthy rogue.

The table below shows the bow pull vs strength as well as the damage at different ranges. To the right is the DynE value, an indicator of how fast a character will fatigue when using this weapon.

The Englishman with his 17 STR can take the heaviest bow with the 600 grain arrow. He will have 5 ranges, from 30 yrds to 200 yrds. Given the high DynE value he will be able to let off two arrows at best given his constitution of 14. If he required a faster rate of fire he can take a lighter 400 grain flight arrow and fire up to 3 times per round. Either arrow does formidable damage and the heavy 600 grain arrow can punch 2d10 HP of damage at 30 yards. Enough to break through plate armor.

The mounted archer lacks the strength of the Englishman and is limited to a 300 grain heavy arrow. The benefit is that the bow is much lighter with a DynE of 10 instead of 16 for the Englishman's long bow. This grants him the ability to shoot all six arrows in a round and since his targets are not as armored, the 2d6 damage of such arrows is enough to kill an opponent. He has forfeit bow damage and range for a considerable increase in fire rate.

Finally the rogue, with her low strength must concentrate on fire rate. She selects the light 150 flight arrow with a DynE of 7. Less than half the energy cost of the Englishman's longbow, this bow gives her an impressive rate of fire of 8 arrows per round. She can only fire effectively up to 60 yrds, but she doesn't need more. Her precision added to the flight arrow's +2 and +1 at such ranges (see range modifiers below) make her a deadly marksman. There are high odds she'll get a head shot with such precision and if she misses she still has 7 more shots in that round. Her damage is small 2d4, but enough to take out the lightly armored targets she meets in the city.

STRHuman 32” arrow shaft
light arrowheavy arrowArrow Weight (grains)30yds60 yds100yds150yds200ydsDynE





Range modifiers

30yds60 yds100yds150yds200yds
light arrow21000
heavy arrow0-1-2-3-4
clearancedirect10 feet30 feet +30 feet +30 feet +

The weapons, ranges, damage and attacks are:

Human 32” arrow shaft

Arrow Weight (grains)30yds60 yds100yds150yds200ydsAttacks


Mounted Archer3002d6+12d62d6-1

Englishman Flight Arrow4002d82d8-12d8-22d8-3

Englishman Heavy Arrow6002d102d10-12d10-22d10-32d10-42

The rogue as a fast and precise weapon with a +2 and +1 modifiers at 30 and 60 yrds. She does little damage, but fires very quickly.

The mounted archer also has a lower firing rate, but has a little more damage and can reach up to 100yds.

The Englishman has the heaviest bow. He can reach up to 200 yrds and attacks at short ranges are deadly even to armored knights. He can switch to a lighter, less damaging bow that gives him two more attacks at the cost of less damage and the extended 200 yrd range.

The rules provide weapons consistent with each character's attributes and gives you the player a way to differentiate your character from other party members. Thus creating a more personalized an unique gaming experience.

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