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vicky_molokh 11-27-2009 05:30 AM

Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Greetings, all!

It is no big secret that the role of an archer in High Fantasy is different from a role of an archer in normal fantasy/low-tech games. Notably, HF archers are scary R-DPS machines with a RoF exceeding that of some TL5 rifles, and comparable damage. With the proper build, they also have huge range.

However, what about the games with normal point ranges (100-150 or below)? What are the roles of archers in those parties, especially given that learning Bow is a lifetime investment?

Thanks in advance!

Gollum 11-27-2009 06:18 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Being able to shoot someone before he is close enough to hit you with a sword is a big advantage! Do you know the battle of Agincourt?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Agincourt

Mark Caliber 11-27-2009 06:28 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Yeah, in modern parlance, an archer even a lowly TL non-munchkined version is still a "Blaster."

If you have magic, then you'll likely find the archer standing RIGHT NEXT to the mage.

And if they're both smart they'll be standing behind cover.

vicky_molokh 11-27-2009 06:34 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Gollum (Post 888827)
Being able to shoot someone before he is close enough to hit you with a sword is a big advantage! Do you know the battle of Agincourt?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Agincourt

Which is cool in mass-vs-mass Suppressive Fire, but not so much in a 5v5 or so, where you have to hit individual fighters, once per several seconds, and they get to Dodge at the very least.

thulben 11-27-2009 06:56 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
I don't know much about it, but my guess is that you wouldn't have a dedicated archer. Being able to shoot a guy once or twice before he's in melee range isn't super awesome, but it's better than having shot him zero times.

malloyd 11-27-2009 07:10 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Molokh (Post 888831)
Which is cool in mass-vs-mass Suppressive Fire, but not so much in a 5v5 or so, where you have to hit individual fighters, once per several seconds, and they get to Dodge at the very least.

Sure low TL missile fire is not wonderfully effective. You shouldn't be surprised, otherwise low TL war wouldn't put any more emphasis on hand weapons than modern armies do. If you want to win a fight based entirely on low TL missiles, be fast enough to run away, or stand behind a fortification your foes have no option but to attack.

Still, bows aren't terrible - you ought to be able to get off 3 shots or so before they close if you start at clear recognition ranges, and 1 arrow hit does stand a decent chance of crippling something, or causing a major wound. I'd expect your group of 5 pure archers to take out 2 or 3 of the charging melee specialists before the remaining 2 or 3 cut them to bits, and the chance of them actually winning isn't negligible. Probably not great, but not negligible.

weby 11-27-2009 07:29 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Also as the rules are written archers are also good at penetrating armor with their blodkin point arrows.

In a recent session my archer with movement speed 7, fair hiding skills and LOT of arrows, harassed a large group of armored enemies by firing from cover and forcing them to send out patrols to hunt her that she again ambushed alone and ran away.

Her arrows could reliably punch through armor most of the time due to the (2) pen, causing a lot of wounds, though very few serious ones.

But overall the enemies armor main effect seemed to be to slow them down due to weight..

Sam Baughn 11-27-2009 07:33 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Depends on the battlefield, really. In a cave, dungeon or city streets where engagement ranges are seldom more than ten yards, a bow is a terrible weapon.

In open ground where melee fighters have to charge a hundred yards while you stand back and shoot them, it's brilliant. In a siege, where melee fighters simply can't reach the enemy without a ladder, it's even better.

A low fantsy bowman needs to avoid fights where he is at a disadvantage - using scouting, ambush and manouverability to make sure that he encounters enemies in terrain which favours him. They are also useful when the party is attacked by enemies who use these tactics against them.

Collective_Restraint 11-27-2009 07:39 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Still, with a high enough skill in Bow and Fast Draw (Arrow), you can shoot arrows once every two seconds. While it's still not enough to compete with Melee, the fact you can hit opponents that are trying to stay behind cover for support roles (healers, spellcasters or other archers) makes it pretty useful. Arrows can't normally be parried which is normally the highest defense option available to warriors and on top of that, the target can't retreat for an extra defense bonus (unless they want to dodge and drop). Bodkin arrows to damage highly armored opponents and impaling damage makes it very appealing too.

Collective_Restraint 11-27-2009 07:42 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Perfect Organism (Post 888850)
Depends on the battlefield, really. In a cave, dungeon or city streets where engagement ranges are seldom more than ten yards, a bow is a terrible weapon.

Depends. The fact that you can ready your bow before having a comrade open a door where you will get to shoot anything behind it at whatever distance it is makes it pretty useful.

The Wrathchild 11-27-2009 07:48 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
The role of the archer is to shoot at the opposition before it closes to melee range. After that the archer goes into melee just like the others. Sometimes he might be able to swing keeping his distance and firing every 2-4 turns or so, depending on him having Fast-Draw or not. Fast-Draw does make a difference here, in those 100-150 pointers. One of the main challenges is the fact the Ready-ing that archers do a lot allows "only" Stepping - thus, if the archer needs distance he has to spend even more time getting that distance.

But attacking at a distance IS an advantage. You can reach just about everyone on the field, and in spread-out affairs, the archer can easily end up dominating while the tanks stomp around forever.

As in all things GURPS the value of points spent depend on the game providing the conditions under which those points come into play.

In tight places, with opponents coming from all directions, the archer will be sad.

In open, free-range battles he is much happier.

In bottlenecks where he can be elevated, and safe behind frontline fighters - he's estatic. Especially if the opponents have no missile users of their own ;-)

edit: Sniping is of course also an opportunity.

Setting is all - and the role varies with the setting.

Ah, Ninja'd - several times ;-)

DouglasCole 11-27-2009 09:12 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Collective_Restraint (Post 888854)
Depends. The fact that you can ready your bow before having a comrade open a door where you will get to shoot anything behind it at whatever distance it is makes it pretty useful.

My players used ST16 xbows for that, and as "fire and drop" initial salvo.

chris1982 11-27-2009 09:47 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Our archer likes to climb on trees etc to get a good shot without the enemy closing in easily on him.

Kale 11-27-2009 12:10 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chris1982 (Post 888919)
Our archer likes to climb on trees etc to get a good shot without the enemy closing in easily on him.

That's a good plan as long as the enemy doesn't have any archers. Your guy can't dodge very well if he's sitting in a tree! On the other hand the branches and leaves might count as light concealment, and if he has camouflage they might not spot him for a couple shots.

Rocket Man 11-27-2009 12:15 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kale (Post 888981)
That's a good plan as long as the enemy doesn't have any archers. Your guy can't dodge very well if he's sitting in a tree! On the other hand the branches and leaves might count as light concealment, and if he has camouflage they might not spot him for a couple shots.

Especially since there's no flash of light or hint of smoke to mark his position, as there might be with a firearm.

sir_pudding 11-27-2009 12:18 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Don't discount the historical primary purpose of archery: survival. If the party is traveling being able to hunt is often a life saver.

Kromm 11-27-2009 12:20 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
The archer wins fights before melee ever happens if the GM is being fair about starting fights at long distances some of the time. If every fight happens at spear range to grappling range, or at most at one second's sprint, then archers are limited. If hostilities open at 50-100 yards a good deal of the time, though, then archers are too valuable to ignore. The key thing as the player of an archer is to let the GM know you expect this. And if, as a GM, you don't intend to do this, you have an obligation to warn the players before they create their PCs, so that nobody creates a PC who's useless in the situations the campaign portrays.

Those saying that "archer" isn't necessarily a dedicated role also have a very good point. I've never actually seen a pure archer. I've seen plenty of PCs whose best skills were Bow and Fast-Draw (Arrow), but who also had a Melee Weapon skill and its Fast-Draw specialty, and who could switch to hand-to-hand rapidly. In fact, I've never seen a pure melee warrior. Even the shortest-ranged of these could chuck axes or spears, and the majority were good with atlatls, bows, crossbows, slings, etc.

chris1982 11-27-2009 12:58 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kale (Post 888981)
That's a good plan as long as the enemy doesn't have any archers. Your guy can't dodge very well if he's sitting in a tree! On the other hand the branches and leaves might count as light concealment, and if he has camouflage they might not spot him for a couple shots.

Well, he isn't doing that after combat has started. He woul scout the enemy, use carmouflage skill and get 2 shots before they even spot him ;-)

Kaldrin 11-27-2009 01:57 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chris1982 (Post 889012)
Well, he isn't doing that after combat has started. He woul scout the enemy, use carmouflage skill and get 2 shots before they even spot him ;-)

Having recently shot a bow I can honestly say he'd better have a lot of gear tying him to that tree or a) his shots will be horribly inaccurate or b) he'll fall out of said tree.

chris1982 11-27-2009 02:37 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kaldrin (Post 889033)
Having recently shot a bow I can honestly say he'd better have a lot of gear tying him to that tree or a) his shots will be horribly inaccurate or b) he'll fall out of said tree.

You got 16 bow skill and 12 climb skill?

Kaldrin 11-27-2009 04:57 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chris1982 (Post 889053)
You got 16 bow skill and 12 climb skill?

The character should have a penalty for firing out of a tree regardless of skill. And 16 or 12 aren't so spectacular that they would guarantee success in that situation.

Landwalker 11-27-2009 05:50 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kaldrin (Post 889114)
The character should have a penalty for firing out of a tree regardless of skill. And 16 or 12 aren't so spectacular that they would guarantee success in that situation.

I'd say a -4 penalty to the Bow roll for a Hard task difficulty (B.345) seems appropriate. If you really wanted to pile it on, you could also assess a -1 or -2 difficulty penalty to the Climbing roll, since staying stable while fiddling with a bow and arrow would at least be "Unfavorable". I might also allow a pseudo-cinematic character to learn Techniques to buy off the penalties.

Cheers.

Dangerious P. Cats 11-27-2009 07:04 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
I have to wonder how many players have archers that aren't also good in Hand to hand combat? In a realistic campaign there's no reason why an archer can put 4 points in Broadsword, 1 in fast draw (sword), 2 points in Shield, another point in fast darw (Shield) with a final point in qucik sheath perk for bow. With the high Dextarity you'd be taking to be good at archering that's going to make a fighter than can hold their own in a melee. In that sense I think that the use of missiles at low tech levels is to put some arrows in the enemy before you need to put you sword in them. I think it's unrealistic and silly to think that archers are exclusivly for shooting.

tshiggins 11-27-2009 08:26 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by DouglasCole (Post 888908)
My players used ST16 xbows for that, and as "fire and drop" initial salvo.

We went with 3d6 impaling heavy crossbows, with the same tactic. It almost always meant several opponents died before they could close.

Polydamas 11-27-2009 08:46 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kromm (Post 888990)
The archer wins fights before melee ever happens if the GM is being fair about starting fights at long distances some of the time. If every fight happens at spear range to grappling range, or at most at one second's sprint, then archers are limited. If hostilities open at 50-100 yards a good deal of the time, though, then archers are too valuable to ignore. The key thing as the player of an archer is to let the GM know you expect this. And if, as a GM, you don't intend to do this, you have an obligation to warn the players before they create their PCs, so that nobody creates a PC who's useless in the situations the campaign portrays.

Those saying that "archer" isn't necessarily a dedicated role also have a very good point. I've never actually seen a pure archer. I've seen plenty of PCs whose best skills were Bow and Fast-Draw (Arrow), but who also had a Melee Weapon skill and its Fast-Draw specialty, and who could switch to hand-to-hand rapidly. In fact, I've never seen a pure melee warrior. Even the shortest-ranged of these could chuck axes or spears, and the majority were good with atlatls, bows, crossbows, slings, etc.

Also, don't forget to include opponents who want to stick at range. in my Bronze Age fantasy campaign, one of the memoriable early fights was between the PCs (hiding in a ditch) and several chariots (each carrying an archer and a driver). The adventurers couldn't close or run away (the chariots were faster, and if they left the ditch they could be trampled or shot at close range) so archery was essential. The fight lasted about a minute of game time.

Three of the five adventurers are archers, but none is just an archer: they have good melee weapon, athletic, and outdoor skills too. But having a range of skills is a good idea for any character.

Speedy opponents on foot, or awkward terrain can give the same effect. Another adventure involved a siege: again, a situation where its difficult for the two sides to close.

SuedodeuS 11-27-2009 09:58 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Although archery, particularly in Low Tech levels, is essentially a lifetime investment, archers are quite rarely just archers. They are likely to have their non-war skills more advanced than the dedicated melee warriors, making them useful in non-combat situations. Notably, really good archers are likely to have keen eyesight, and decent sneaking skills are hardly inappropriate. Thus, archer characters can make for good scouts, trackers, and hunters, although in situations where they need to find hidden foes they are likely to be better served using a melee weapon (a good environment for hiding means close quarters combat is likely, and if they spot an enemy and have time to line up a shot, that probably means the enemy doesn't know they've been spotted and the archer similarly has time to Ready the bow first). In a setting where "adventurers" are common, an archer is also likely to make it a point to know a good deal about tactics. And, of course, archers might have some sort of "day job," the skills of which could transfer to the adventurers in unforeseen ways.

For combat, ambush from height is, of course, ideal. Failing that, a nice plain (preferably with hills to slow the enemy advance) can mean the archer drops a few of the enemies by the time they get into melee with the rest of the party, greatly skewing things in your favor. If you yourself are ambushed, archers in your party will likely be able to respond before the rest - an ambush generally means the enemy engages from a hard-to-reach location, so the ability to reach out and touch someone from range is a great boon to the victims. In potential CQB situations, like exploring a dungeon or engaging in some urban warfare, an archer may be better served leaving his or her bow behind and using a backup melee weapon (shortswords work nicely for this) and maybe a light shield (for the DB). Alternatively, he or she can simply make certain his/her melee weapon is easily within reach for drawing it. If he/she is ever engaged from too close of a distance, dropping the arrow and quickly drawing the sword (keep hold of the bow, you don't want to lose/break it) can work. Indeed, it might be a legitimate option to keep one's hand on the sword hilt at all times, carrying the bow in the off-hand (as that's how you hold it anyway). This gives a sizable (+4 IIRC) bonus to Fast-Draw for the sword, and really only burns a couple of seconds to draw and nock an arrow (as compared to carrying the bow in a Ready state) in case one does get into a situation that calls for some archery.

Phoenix_Dragon 11-27-2009 10:41 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
In a small group (Say, 3-6 on a side), the normal archer is very much a support person. He's good for opening ambushes, putting some fire into important targets as ranges close, and (Quite importantly) limiting the opponent's tactical options by giving a threat that can hit them almost anywhere they go. The important thing is to control the fight. An archer that can help do that, even if they do very little damage, has contributed hugely to his side... Though as mentioned, they better pack a good weapon for when someone gets in close.

This plays out in real-life battles, too. Agincourt saw one of the greatest victories of the longbow, yet they killed rather few of the enemy compared to the men-at-arms.

rosignol 11-28-2009 08:40 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Molokh (Post 888819)
However, what about the games with normal point ranges (100-150 or below)? What are the roles of archers in those parties, especially given that learning Bow is a lifetime investment?

Thanks in advance!

I haven't played a dedicated archer in that game, but my melee characters invariably end up putting a few points (~4) into Crossbow and always have some bodkin bolts handy.

Lopping off extremities never gets old, but putting a bolt into someone's vitals is a nasty, nasty way to start out an ambush. A 2d+3 (2) pi hit to the vitals tends to change an NPC's immediate goal to 'run away, er, stagger away!'

Phoenix42 11-29-2009 08:42 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Since you mention Agincourt:

One might also want to mention that fantasy and low-TL campaigns tend to include horses or similar mounts. This comes in two versions: A mounted archer can laugh his enemy in the face because he can use his crossbow or shortbow and can dictate his range; if he's any good and the fight is in an open field, he can also circle his enemies and shoot from behind, negating his enemies' dodge rolls. Don't forget that this is essentially what took the Mongols all the way from Mongolia to Austria and what brought the Huns from the Black Sea to the South of France. If your enemy is on foot or only has heavy cavalry, you can massacre them with relative ease. Of course, if you're in a dnd style fantasy world that, strangely, seems to consist only of dungeons, you're screwed. But that's life :)

The other point being (and this is where Agincourt, Crecy and other English victories over the French in the 100 Years' War come in) that while archery is only mediocre against an armoured enemy (let's not kid ourselves, trying to fire through full plate armour, which usually includes padded and chain armour underneath, is asking quite a bit [DR 8-10], even with your best longbow), remember that those guys are often on horseback, and the horse is not as well armoured. Shoot the horse in a sensitive spot, and it will probably buck, and then you've got either a distracted rider or a guy with 60 lbs of armour who just fell off his horse; both isn't really going to present much of a threat for the moment.

That's one of the historical reasons for the victories won by the longbow. Arrows dont' usually kill outright, unless you happen to be a surfing show-off elf whose name shall not be mentioned, but they can really slow your enemies down. That being said, it takes a lot of balls to shoot a charging destrier in a straight shot; the English archers were firing volleys and didn't have to aim, plus they could knew that if the riders did make it, they'd be protected. Advantages most adventurers don't have, as was mentioned before.


I would say that shooting a longbow from out of a tree, at best, is a roll against the worse of your climbing and bow skill. At worst, the GM could completely forbid it, because a longbow should really be fired while standing, and if you're standing in a tree, not holding onto anything, and aiming a longbow... Well, asking for it seems too harmless a term, really.
A short- or crossbow is an entirely different matter, of course.

So, bottom line: If you're the player, try to get a horse (and make sure your GM isn't a dungeon fetishist), and shoot everybody else's (invest a few $ in barbed arrows). If you're a gm looking to make your world more archer-friendly, put more enemies on horseback and have more enemies wearing less or no armour. Also, of course, having npcs on horseback makes for lots of extra fun when it does come to melee :)

Agramer 11-29-2009 11:04 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Phoenix42 (Post 889961)
(invest a few $ in barbed arrows).

actually default 2$ war arrow is barbed arrow.

martinl 11-30-2009 01:32 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Historically, cheap(ish) good armor and shields made archers valuable auxiliaries rather than a primary military arm. (Most of TLs 2 and 3.)

GURPS is actually pretty forgiving here - I'd estimate GURPS archers do better against metal armor and med+ shields than historical archers did. Now I'm curious about a GURPS open field battle between 100+ reasonable heavy inf and reasonable archers...

However, that is the military viewpoint. From the viewpoint of typical RPG "parties" (a mix of commando, bravo, and bandit), the archer is for ambushes, for having a response to inaccessible enemy missile fire, and attrition of known enemies who start out far away.

Refplace 11-30-2009 02:30 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Shooting from a tree is hard, some covered above but you also have a limited arc of fire since you typically cant move much and you alos have limbs in the way. Big impact on your rate of fire.
However modern deer hunters sometimes shoot from tree stands which are basically canvas seats. A harness could also be used and gives me an interesting idea to add to an Elven Archer style.....
You could make a rope harness that is pretty comfortable and suspend yourself from a tree so you brace yourself against the tree rather then have to hold onto it. And a knife or quick release and your out in an emergency. Maybe acrobatics to land better too.

One thing about ranged combat I was thinking of while reading the Agincourt.
there is an Irish story/myth about a warrior named Cuchalian who delayed an army with a sling. He would kill a few in camp or on the march from cover each day and this delayed the army and lowered morale. Then they went to an honrable combat one on one fight in order to get him to stop. One fight each day until he lost and the army wouldnt move if he would stop killing them. Gave his army time to mobilize and meet them IIRC.

chris1982 11-30-2009 02:40 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kaldrin (Post 889114)
The character should have a penalty for firing out of a tree regardless of skill. And 16 or 12 aren't so spectacular that they would guarantee success in that situation.

Well you said that you recently shot a bow and couldn't do it so our char can't really do it.

Guess what? I have another char that can fly... ;-)

Kale 11-30-2009 03:07 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chris1982 (Post 890412)
Well you said that you recently shot a bow and couldn't do it so our char can't really do it.
Guess what? I have another char that can fly... ;-)

Err... he just said shooting a bow is hard. Having also done this myself, fairly extensively, I concur. (I used to have a composite Turkish recurved bow) I also imaging trying to shoot one while perched in a tree would be even more difficult. That said, proper preparations like the aforementioned tree stand and a good climbing skill (which is mainly what we probably lack) would offset this a lot.
There's also the matter of how realistic you want to be as a GM. If you're more a 'rule of cool' GM then let your PCs go for it. Personally I think it helps the archer be more useful, so I'd let him get away with it at a token penalty, improved if he has more time to prepare. Your style may vary. @:-)

Wraithe 11-30-2009 07:35 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Molokh (Post 888819)
Greetings, all!
It is no big secret that the role of an archer in High Fantasy is different from a role of an archer in normal fantasy/low-tech games. Notably, HF archers are scary R-DPS machines with a RoF exceeding that of some TL5 rifles, and comparable damage. With the proper build, they also have huge range.
However, what about the games with normal point ranges (100-150 or below)? What are the roles of archers in those parties, especially given that learning Bow is a lifetime investment?
Thanks in advance!

Well I think others have covered most of the points I would have made, so I just have a few minor observations.

First off, as other have noted, taking fire from an archer in an advance generally slows you down, either from you trying to avoid getting hit or getting hit and having to deal with it.

Another thing is that a bow (or any missile weapon) has a certain amount of intimidation factor. My rule has always been:

"There's a reason you can hold off 20 people with two rounds left in your gun...no one wants to be numbers 1 & 2."

I think a factor in the "intimidation" is partly that in earlier centuries, a deep puncture wound (impaling) is generally harder to treat and keep infection out, so some of that fear is justified in the period, as you might not die from the initial wound, but you might wish you had.

I once saw an archer (In SCA Light combat) hold off 6 opponents at short (10') range, simply because no one wanted to be the one to take the arrow.
(Author's note: I showed up, assessed and obliquely charged the archer, parried the arrow - into my leg - and the other 6 guys pounded him like a tent peg before he could bear on them.)

DF of course, generally you're going to get opponents that are going ignore casualties, but in a historical setting, animals and other creatures as well as "people" are going to not like the fact that you can reach out and touch them first.

Kalzazz 11-30-2009 11:11 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
I normally think of something like a WWII infantry tank concept, so my lower point archers tend to be practically immobile from weight of armor, but able to stand and trade blows

Except they trade blows at range

A backup melee weapon is still essential though

Phoenix42 12-01-2009 01:41 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Agramer (Post 890031)
actually default 2$ war arrow is barbed arrow.

You're right, of course. I meant the really really evil ones, but as I just realised those are classed as broadhead arrows, like the one in the image, plus barbs. Stick that in a horse's side and the rider will be making control checks from now till christmas...

http://img.alibaba.com/photo/5062683..._Arrow_Tip.jpg

Sword-dancer 12-01-2009 03:31 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Phoenix42 (Post 889961)
Since you mention Agincourt:

One might also want to mention that fantasy and low-TL campaigns tend to include horses or similar mounts. This comes in two versions: A mounted archer can laugh his enemy in the face because he can use his crossbow or shortbow and can dictate his range;

reloading a crossbow is not an easy task mounted if at all possible and a shortbow is a lousy weapon for combat use
Quote:

if he's any good and the fight is in an open field, he can also circle his enemies and shoot from behind, negating his enemies' dodge rolls.
do you really believe that the Warriors wouldnīt change front and stand like toy soldiers in show formation?

Quote:

If Don't forget that this is essentially what took the Mongols all the way from Mongolia to Austria
i thought they ended in hungary looked at central european country seeing the woods, no place to feed their ponys said thank you and went home.

Quote:

and what brought the Huns from the Black Sea to the South of France.
nd getting themselves butchered by the Goths as well as the Magyars were butchered or better annihilated by the germans and the turks beaten by the crusaders.
Using a composite bow to īve a decent chance to do damage you must go so close to havy cav that one slight miscalculation or a well timed and calculated counterattack ist pure disaster.

Wheras as slid medium foot can encircle themselves and shoot at you at greater range with long and crossbows, in combination with cav who sally at the right moment.

Agramer 12-01-2009 04:18 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sword-dancer (Post 890752)
reloading a crossbow is not an easy task mounted if at all possible and a shortbow is a lousy weapon for combat use
do you really believe that the Warriors wouldnīt change front and stand like toy soldiers in show formation?

Point is in formation..turning around whole formation makes it stop in spot and it aint advancing anymore toward your lines.

You can use longer bows from horsback,or recurved ones.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sword-dancer (Post 890752)
i thought they ended in hungary looked at central european country seeing the woods, no place to feed their ponys said thank you and went home.

Actually,Khan Died and they went back home to elect new one,as their custom was.Meanwhile they got into quarrels and Europe was saved.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sword-dancer (Post 890752)
and the turks beaten by the crusaders.

If not counting few battles,it was Europeans being beaten by Turks ;)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sword-dancer (Post 890752)
Using a composite bow to īve a decent chance to do damage you must go so close to havy cav that one slight miscalculation or a well timed and calculated counterattack ist pure disaster.

Horses werent armoured as much as men were.Though yes..Archers without protection would get stomped by cavalry.

Sword-dancer 12-01-2009 04:30 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Agramer (Post 890757)
Point is in formation..turning around whole formation makes it stop in spot and it aint advancing anymore toward your lines..

i didnīt meanīt turning around the whole formation only to redirect the last lines zo form a shieldwall, Karree, testudo etc

Quote:

You can use longer bows from horsback,or recurved ones.
phoenix42 wrote shortbow or crossbow


Quote:

Actually,Khan Died and they went back home to elect new one,as their custom was.
which is a nice story but the timeline isnīt supporting that,


Quote:

If not counting few battles,it was Europeans being beaten by Turks ;)
not by by the sejuqs later by the Ottomans, Outremer hold for a long time.
Quote:


.Though yes..Archers without protection would get stomped by cavalry
i was answering to mounted archers

Agramer 12-01-2009 04:48 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sword-dancer (Post 890761)
i didnīt meanīt turning around the whole formation only to redirect the last lines zo form a shieldwall, Karree, testudo etc

same effect.

Forgot battle,but Salahadin pinned like that Christian rearguard and would annihilate it and subsequently whole army if not for Christian commander turning whole army timely about and charging to help.

Another example were Romans who got defeated by mounted archers(Crassus vs Parthians).

Sword-dancer 12-01-2009 04:56 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Agramer (Post 890769)
same effect..

thats the reason the french cavalry brooke their teeth on spanish an english crrees.

Quote:

Forgot battle,but Salahadin pinned like that Christian rearguard and would annihilate it
Arsuf?

The Knights of St John hold the rearguard, the frankish foot and bowmen hold the flank, and the Richard Lionheart attacked Saladins with a sally of his knights, Sal al Ed Dins forces were routed.

or did you mean Tiberias or Teresias where Baldouin th Lepper King a boy forced Saladins forces in a flight he could not even organice a retreat.

Quote:

Another example were Romans who got defeated by mounted archers(Crassus vs Parthians)
and crassus got memoriced as a general who plundered, the Parthians didnīt broke the legions with their archers or their cataphracts, the fool offered battle without water on a place only a fool would offer a battle.

Lupo 12-01-2009 07:26 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Molokh (Post 888819)
However, what about the games with normal point ranges (100-150 or below)? What are the roles of archers in those parties, especially given that learning Bow is a lifetime investment?

1) A bowman can ambush and strike from a distance. It is a *very* useful addition to most parties from both a strategic and tactic perspective, even if melee weapons deal more damage and hit more easily.

2) Bodkin arrows. The only easy way to reduce DR in low-powered, pseudo-realistic games.

3) All-out aimed attacks on vulnerable locations, especially against huge monsters or heavily armored knights.

4) Being a bowman is very cheap compared to a swordsman: a single skill to improve, ST and HT are less important, equipment is cheap.

5) If you stay 10 yards out of the fight, you'll probably avoid capture, watch the horses, protect the One Ring, even if the fight goes badly. This can be very useful for the party.

Bowmen DO kill less foes than melee fighters, but playing them can be both useful and fun!

ismenis 12-01-2009 08:12 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sword-dancer (Post 890761)
which is a nice story but the timeline isnīt supporting that,

Interesting, since I've read various texts (in three different languages at that too) and all of them support the "nice story". Are you sure you are not confusing the conquests of Genghis Khan with those of his son Ögedei?

Archers are always useful when there are lightly armoured opponents to shoot at.

Phoenix42 12-01-2009 12:22 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sword-dancer (Post 890761)
i didnīt meanīt turning around the whole formation only to redirect the last lines zo form a shieldwall, Karree, testudo etc

which nevertheless will inevitably slow your advance, not to mention confuse your soldiers - only well-disciplined troops can actually win out against horse archers.

Quote:

phoenix42 wrote shortbow or crossbow
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sword-dancer (Post 890752)
reloading a crossbow is not an easy task mounted if at all possible and a shortbow is a lousy weapon for combat use
do you really believe that the Warriors wouldnīt change front and stand like toy soldiers in show formation?

indeed - crossbows are difficult to reload, granted; I was talking about composite shortbows, which are the ones used from horseback in the examples I cited.

Also, if you're planning on taking on a formation, you should really either have a) lots of friends armed like you or b) have balls of steel.
Nobody's doubting (at least I wasn't) that there are methods for footmen and heavy cavalry to defeat horse archers in battle. But that is a question of discipline, formation and tactical intelligence, things that aren't all too relevant for players outside a very detailed military campaign.

Quote:

i thought they ended in hungary looked at central european country seeing the woods, no place to feed their ponys said thank you and went home.
Actually they ended in bohemia, if one is precise (the borderlines not being as perfect back then) and merely decided to go back because their Khan had just died and they had to elect a new one. It has been pointed out often enough by historians and alternate universians that if this Khan had lived longer, Western Europe may well not have survived.


Quote:

Using a composite bow to īve a decent chance to do damage you must go so close to havy cav that one slight miscalculation or a well timed and calculated counterattack ist pure disaster.
I think the mongols would have begged to differ. Plus this is really not what the discussion is about. If you are up against a formation of cavalry as a player, of course you don't go riding up close to them. But that's not due to arms, that's because there's only one of you (or maybe up to four) and lots of them. Battle tactics don't translate well into skirmish and small group tactics for players.

Quote:

Wheras as slid medium foot can encircle themselves and shoot at you at greater range with long and crossbows, in combination with cav who sally at the right moment.
How exactly is this relevant to the question at hand, being group (note group, not batallions or armies) encounters and character decisions for personal armament? The original problem was that characters using ranged weapons are quickly outflanked and closed upon by melee-armed enemies; the simplest way of preventing this is starting off and staying as far away from them as possible while maintaining adequate range to use your weapon.

This is achieved best by either being somewhere they can't get, or being faster than they are. If your foe is already on horseback, shoot the horse. Of course this can go wrong, everything can - but it's still probably the best way to survive if you're playing a dedicated archer character.

Sword-dancer 12-01-2009 02:19 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ismenis (Post 890830)
Interesting, since I've read various texts (in three different languages at that too) and all of them support the "nice story". Are you sure you are not confusing the conquests of Genghis Khan with those of his son Ögedei?.

No i read the same and i read it was the same hoax as was when Karl Martell is praised for stopping the Invasion of the Arabs by Poitiers.

The same time a civil war between different Dynasties was fought in the caliphate, and it is reasonable that the regent of Spain considered it the better part of valour to fight the infidels in holy war then to support one of the factions, his excuse would look very pious.

Sorry My Caliph, i couldnīt help you because i was fighting infidels.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Phoenix42 (Post 890956)
which nevertheless will inevitably slow your advance, not to mention confuse your soldiers - ..

The romans did well enough at carrhae, the saxons at Hastings , the Franks, saxons a poitiers, the bycanteans uused their infantry mainly for that purpose.


only well-disciplined troops can actually win out against horse archers



Quote:

I was talking about composite shortbows, which are the ones used from horseback in the examples I cited.
No, this is a D&D weapon, the real weapon is named composite bow.

Quote:

things that aren't all too relevant for players outside a very detailed military campaign.
welcome at my table


Quote:

Actually they ended in bohemia, if one is precise (the borderlines not being as perfect back then) and merely decided to go back because their Khan had just died and they had to elect a new one. It has been pointed out often enough by historians and alternate universians that if this Khan had lived longer, Western Europe may well not have survived.
Yes, nice story but the Forests of middle europe donīt support large numbers of ponies and horse archery, german knights had slaughtered magyars and fought in the rusades, as well as frankish etc, the mongols were a long way from home without reliable support,



Quote:

I think the mongols would have begged to differ.
and that is the reason a third of their army was eavy cavalry, iīve read a few books of crusade war.

Quote:

Plus this is really not what the discussion is about.
then why did you start it?

Peter Knutsen 12-02-2009 12:14 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by malloyd (Post 888841)
Still, bows aren't terrible - you ought to be able to get off 3 shots or so before they close if you start at clear recognition ranges, and 1 arrow hit does stand a decent chance of crippling something, or causing a major wound. I'd expect your group of 5 pure archers to take out 2 or 3 of the charging melee specialists before the remaining 2 or 3 cut them to bits, and the chance of them actually winning isn't negligible. Probably not great, but not negligible.

Also, since (IIRC) it's a fantasy genre campaign, the party's dedicated archer can pimp his bow with useful Enchantments, and use Enchanted arrows too.


I'd guess Penetrating Weapon from GURPS Magic is particularly attractive on the bow, and then since armour penetration is pretty much assured, the +2 damage Icy Weapon or Flaming Weapon on the arrows (which takes effect only if the unmodified damage penetrates the armour, but that's what Penetrating Armour is for).

Imbuements might be an alternative to Enchantments, costing CPs instead of gold, and being equally reliant on the world builder's (usually that would be the GM) decision, but AFAIK roughly similar results can be achieved with Imbuements.

Peter Knutsen 12-02-2009 12:17 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Perfect Organism (Post 888850)
In open ground where melee fighters have to charge a hundred yards while you stand back and shoot them, it's brilliant. In a siege, where melee fighters simply can't reach the enemy without a ladder, it's even better.

There's also NPC morale, which must be taken into account for the sake of realism.

One archer, known for being a good shot (with an actual game-mechancial bought-with-points or earned-in-play Reputation, to that effect, if necessary), versus half a dozen orcs. He goes "Freeze! The first to move closer dies. Drop your weapons and run away from me".

That's a very real test of whether the GM has a healthy attitude.

Peter Knutsen 12-02-2009 12:19 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Collective_Restraint (Post 888854)
Depends. The fact that you can ready your bow before having a comrade open a door where you will get to shoot anything behind it at whatever distance it is makes it pretty useful.

I can see a lot of good reasons for an abstract-and-simple rule saying there's a penalty for shooting if the target is on the other side of a doorway, assuming the door is of typical width (e.g. less than 120 cm).

For added detail, differentiate the penalty according to weapon, with a bigger penalty to bows than to crossbows.

Peter Knutsen 12-02-2009 12:22 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sir_pudding (Post 888988)
Don't discount the historical primary purpose of archery: survival. If the party is traveling being able to hunt is often a life saver.

Being able to hunt is Archery 14. Perhaps even Archery 12.

Archery useful in a GURPS DF campaign is more like Archery 18, or even Archery 20.

Peter Knutsen 12-02-2009 12:29 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 890376)
However, that is the military viewpoint. From the viewpoint of typical RPG "parties" (a mix of commando, bravo, and bandit), the archer is for ambushes, for having a response to inaccessible enemy missile fire, and attrition of known enemies who start out far away.

What about poison delivery? I don't really believe in Hollywood-style instant-death poisons, but even on a 1-second combat Round scale, there might well be poisons that significantly nerfs the target's ability to move, fight, defend, or think clearly and make reasonable tactical decisions.


And yes, I was surprised to be reminded, in this thread, that in GURPS bodkin arrows have a (2) armour DR divisor.

Bodkin arrows should be better against armour than regular arrows, of course, but it reminds me of the coarse-grainedness of the system.

(Not that making a good weapon-penetration-versus-armour model is easy. The one I use in Sagatafl is better than the one GURPS uses, but works only for medieval weapons (it works for modern weapons/armours the same way AD&D works for roleplaying gaming, one might say), and I haven't yet come up with a different model that feels at all good when used for firearms versus balistic vests.)

Peter Knutsen 12-02-2009 12:31 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kale (Post 890432)
Err... he just said shooting a bow is hard. Having also done this myself, fairly extensively, I concur. (I used to have a composite Turkish recurved bow) I also imaging trying to shoot one while perched in a tree would be even more difficult. That said, proper preparations like the aforementioned tree stand and a good climbing skill (which is mainly what we probably lack) would offset this a lot.

Realistically, that which is initially hard ceases to be hard once one has thrown a few hundred hours of practice at it.

chris1982 12-02-2009 03:55 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen (Post 891208)
Realistically, that which is initially hard ceases to be hard once one has thrown a few hundred hours of practice at it.

The argument of "I (insert activity here) once at (insert fun event here) and must say I can't really do it well..." comes a bit often recently in different threads by my taste... Not that it would somehow be helpful... ;)

nik1979 12-02-2009 04:29 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Why limit to party members specializing in archery? Why not the whole party having invested 4cp in archery. Even at DX10 archers with Bow-10 are still pretty useful in many situations.


Quote:

2cp Archery DX+0
1cp fast Draw DX+0
1cp Weapon Bond

IDHMBWM
Longbow $200 3lbs or
Composite Bow $900 4lbs (you carry it in a case)
x30 (cheap) arrows in a large HipQuiver $76 6lbs
9-10lbs Total Equipment allowance for Ranged Weapons.

ST11 48lbs (light enc)

Worn: $520, 20lbs
Mail Shirt $430 14lbs*
Light Cloak $20 2lbs
Clothes (Varies by Status and free) 2lbs
Shoes $40 2lbs
Gloves $30 neg.


Carried: $371-$1071, 24-25lbs

Cheap Axe $24 4lbs
Cheap Large Knife $24 1lb
Cheap Light Shield (Buckler) $12 2lbs
Pouch ($10 3lbs) $15 4lbs
- Currency
- Personal Basics $5 1lb
Pouch ($10 3lbs) $20 4lbs
- Ceramic Water Flask $10 3lbs
- 1 Quart of Water
Ranged Weapon Allowance $276-$976, 9-10lbs

total: $891-$1591, 45lbs

*from Dan Howards's "Mail Why Bother" article. DR 4cut/ 2cr/ 3imp-piercing, covers: body-thats torso, groin, and neck.

vicky_molokh 12-02-2009 05:04 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Please, no magic. That's not 'normal low-tech', that's middle or high fantasy.

Kenvain 12-02-2009 09:09 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Have you thought of using Heroic Archer from MA (sorry if i missed someone suggesting this). It would allow you to adapt your Archer to a more mobile way of fighting. This would allow him/her to shine in more situations than just the "open field" or "mounted / horse archery" situations.

If you're using elves or the like see if everyone is okay (read the GM is ok) with having multiple levels of Telescopic vision (any Tolkien flavored elf should have at least 1 minimum.) to really make aim much more worth while.

Heroic Archer is cinematic and telescopic is more of a racial trait which might allow you to forgo the magic side of upgrades.

vicky_molokh 12-02-2009 09:18 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kenvain (Post 891316)
Have you thought of using Heroic Archer from MA (sorry if i missed someone suggesting this). It would allow you to adapt your Archer to a more mobile way of fighting. This would allow him/her to shine in more situations than just the "open field" or "mounted / horse archery" situations.

If you're using elves or the like see if everyone is okay (read the GM is ok) with having multiple levels of Telescopic vision (any Tolkien flavored elf should have at least 1 minimum.) to really make aim much more worth while.

Heroic Archer is cinematic and telescopic is more of a racial trait which might allow you to forgo the magic side of upgrades.

Ahem, the whole point of the thread was exploring the role of an archer in a low-tech game at 100-150pts and no superscience/magic/cinematics. Think of a group of bandits or bounty hunters in medieval/ancient England/Egypt/Rome/Babylon/etc.

Johnny Angel 12-02-2009 09:31 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Molokh (Post 891323)
Ahem, the whole point of the thread was exploring the role of an archer in a low-tech game at 100-150pts and no superscience/magic/cinematics. Think of a group of bandits or bounty hunters in medieval/ancient England/Egypt/Rome/Babylon/etc.

When it comes to small unit tactics, I'd say that a dedicated archer would probably also be wise to invest some cp into being able to be more mobile than the enemy. One possible option is to buy a horse and 'kite' the enemy; horse archery seemed to work rather well for the Mongols.

Icelander 12-02-2009 10:05 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen (Post 891208)
Realistically, that which is initially hard ceases to be hard once one has thrown a few hundred hours of practice at it.

Really?

I've lived more than 220,000 hours and of those, at least a 50,000 have been devoted to practising something (mostly not useful things, though, here's looking at you Games (RPG)). Hundreds or even thousands of them have been spent practising soccer, walking and climbing mountains, throwing knives, swimming and other physical skills.

Yet things that were hard are sometimes still hard. I'm no Christiano Ronaldo, and never was, even when I was in better physical shape. And even when I could hit a playing card at ten yards with a thrown knife, I doubt I could have hit a moving target at unpredictable range well enough to have much of an effect in combat. As for my climbing skills, well, let's just say that I'm lucky that I've not broken all of my bones.

And what's more, shooting a warbow accurately at battlefield ranges is not just hard for untrained people. It's so hard that it requires more than a decade of regular practise to be possible.

Bowhunting with a modern 60-pound compound bow is not even remotely comparable. For one thing, using a light modern bow allows the bow to be aimed without losing too much of energy to reduce terminal effects below acceptable levels.

That's a luxury warbows didn't afford. They were shot by feel, demanding that the user had enough experience to know where the arrow would end up without being able to sight along the shaft. Bow skill being Physical/Hard when compared to Crossbow or Guns is far closer to reality than the 'heroic average' of 4e which has it be a mere DX/Average skill.

Could a low-tech bow of some sort be shot from a prepared perch in a tree? Sure, I guess. If it was easy to draw while sitting and not too unwieldy and the prepared perch allowed at least as much stability as a good saddle (ideally with stirrups).

Could any kind of realistic warbow made before modern times and intended for the highest ST that a character can handle while standing on steady ground be shot accurately while clinging to a tree branch? No, it could not.

nik1979 12-02-2009 10:26 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Ideally the PCs are DX12 so they have an Bow-12 (at 2cp). Bow-10 is only good enough for mass-firing (and not even at the ideal level of skill). If weapon bond can be taken multiple times should certainly be taken advantage.

Terminal Aim (3 sec; +3+1+1) + AoA: Determined (+1) = +6
+6 is good @ 20yrds with skill 13 (weapon bond and DX12) at 84%.
If the 20 yrds will take 10 seconds to cover, it is optimal to use the bows. You can get roughly 3 shots at this distance if it will take 10sec to close in.

Instances where 20 yards will take more than 10 seconds.
- Terrain rough enough that running risk injury (half move). Practically all outdoor terrains might require Running+DX TDM+0 (challenging). Worse if the terrain is really bad like rocky and grassy (hiding pitted areas) TDM-5, inclined loose rocky terrain TDM-7, TDM-10 those wuxia poles descending into a bottomless chasm or steep cliff face with only inches of footing, loose rocks and some slippery moss. Fail is slowing down to the appropriate movement to cover the distance: typically half or walking move/5. Critical Fail is appropriate consequence.
- Considering the opponents are at least at Light Enc. Move-4.

If the PC wants to trade off accuracy for distance, Skill-10 @70yrds.

In a ranged exchange, remember to stay behind cover or a PC who has at least a small shield.

When to use up an arrow:
  1. Value of Opportunity (odds of it happening again, what stands to be gained)
  2. Cost of the Projectile (actual cost, circumstantial cost, and future circumstantial cost)
  3. Odds of being effective (chances to hit, to damage, and cause the opponent to go down)
I don't mean to make people do some math with this, just keep it in mind when and with some practice one quickly runs through the points.

Skill-9 at 100yrds is only worth while if (the chance of bringing down the enemy x the value of the enemy) is greater than the cost of the action (and future cost).
Sacrificing my remaining arrow (considering immediate engagements) on the dismal chance of bringing down the enemy is not a worth while situation.

An enemy escaping by the skin of his teeth, with campaign ending news/information is certainly a situation to try even if you have a 1% shot of success. (enemy is -12 to be hit or 200yrds and galloping at 9yrds/sec on horseback -4, possible with an arching shot).

Icelander 12-02-2009 10:35 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nik1979 (Post 891345)
An enemy escaping by the skin of his teeth, with campaign ending news/information is certainly a situation to try even if you have a 1% shot of success. (enemy is -12 to be hit or 200yrds and galloping at 9yrds/sec on horseback -4, possible with an arching shot).

At that range, you don't aim for people. Or horses.

Aim for the army and then hope for a good result. If you hit the right hex, you have a 9 or less chance of plugging whomever is in it.

nik1979 12-02-2009 10:40 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Manchurian Foot archers with their Composite Warbows of 210lb pull.

I tried to take up archery to, Its not just the arms its the back and the conditioning. If you didn't take it up when you were young, you won't develop the right bone and joint strength to make those specialized actions.

Given the stiff penalties, severe discipline, and the dedicated income describing the life yeomen archers the no. of hours that make up being an archer the equivalent of modern day special forces training. Because they were the archaic version of "special" forces.

And stance is a big deal in archery, even bad footing could give a -1 to -2 penalty.

chris1982 12-02-2009 10:57 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Molokh (Post 891323)
Ahem, the whole point of the thread was exploring the role of an archer in a low-tech game at 100-150pts and no superscience/magic/cinematics. Think of a group of bandits or bounty hunters in medieval/ancient England/Egypt/Rome/Babylon/etc.

The most important things to make a good archer in GURPS imho are:
- Start the fight from as far away as possible
- Try to shoot people while they are unaware of you or from behind
- Use the terrain to your advantage
- Attack people that don't have a shield first
- When in melee range, stop using the bow and switch to a melee weapon
- After melee, shoot people that try to run away if you want

chris1982 12-02-2009 11:15 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
I have time at the moment, so I will write a bit about how I imagine a great archer for a low fantasy campaign.

Erol is usually dressed in colors that merge well with his surroundings. He has keen senses and is stealthy, so he usually acts as the party's scout and moves 100 meters before the party.

At the moment Erol is tracking a group of four bandits that have a bounty on their heads.

Erol spots the bandits in the forest. He immediately mimicks the sound of an owl to alert his party that he found their prey. Observing them carefully, Erol moves into a position between the woods where he can't be seen easily and still gets a good aim at the bandit's leader.

Erol aims for 3 seconds and then strikes true with his bow. The leader is caught in the chest by the arrow - he can't dodge since he was unaware of the attack.

Erol retreats a bit into the woods and hides. The bandits draw their weapons and start scouting the woods. The bandit leader is quite hurt and moves slower, so he stays in the camp and grabs his shield.

From a nice position Erol shoots another bandit and then retreats to his party. There he fires another arrow when getting sight of the enemy. Afterwards he grabs his trusty axe and wades into melee with his comrades against the bandits.

The fight is quickly over, but one bandit managed to escape without major damage. Erol quickly draws his bow and sends an arrow into the bandit's back, thus slowing down his escape. Erol's mate runs after the bandit and finishes him off...

Kaldrin 12-02-2009 03:47 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chris1982 (Post 891254)
The argument of "I (insert activity here) once at (insert fun event here) and must say I can't really do it well..." comes a bit often recently in different threads by my taste... Not that it would somehow be helpful... ;)

Well, it would give you some perspective of how hard some things actually are to do.

Polydamas 12-02-2009 09:39 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Historical quibble Icelander: as far as I know, late medieval longbows are an outlier in terms of the draw weight. Judging by the weight of arrows and design of the bow, Scythian-type bows used in war probably averaged around 50-60 lbs draw for example. I've read of a few examples of low-tech composite bows with draw weights over 100 lbs, but I don't know of any culture where they were standard.

Gavynn 12-02-2009 09:48 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chris1982 (Post 891377)
I have time at the moment, so I will write a bit about how I imagine a great archer for a low fantasy campaign. ...

I have to partially agree with Chris here. While Kromm and everyone is right that if the GM constantly starts encounters in melee range, the archer is going to feel cheated, but sooner or later in a plan the PCs are going to come up with that are going to be glad they have missile capabilities. Plus, if the PCs are in a situation where they get to engage their foes (rather than always suddenly being engaged in melee) the archer can fight on his or her own terms.

nik1979 12-02-2009 10:02 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Interesting how Encounter Ranges are a matter of the GM's doing and not the player's precaution.

Check out the Hunting exercise using Stealth. That is 30yrds at TD+0 . This also assumes the "stalker" is moving at a brisk walk (move1), moving faster like a hustle to overcome the distance, is where the TDM-5 for closing the distance is from (probably move 2). That would probably take 15 seconds to cover the distance because of the speed difference.

Depending on the PCs Tactics, Survival, and Navigation there is a good chance prepared PCs can prevent an engagement from getting to melee. Such skills would allow them to assess the situation before committing to either retreat, maneuvers or engagement.

Icelander 12-02-2009 10:12 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Polydamas (Post 891635)
Historical quibble Icelander: as far as I know, late medieval longbows are an outlier in terms of the draw weight. Judging by the weight of arrows and design of the bow, Scythian-type bows used in war probably averaged around 50-60 lbs draw for example. I've read of a few examples of low-tech composite bows with draw weights over 100 lbs, but I don't know of any culture where they were standard.

Late medieval longbows also mark almost the sole point at which bows were more than ways to harry and inconvenience an armoured enemy.

I believe that those horsebows which were useful in war were also at 100 lbs. or so. I've at least seen several studies with reproductions of that weight.

Evil Roy Slade 12-02-2009 11:52 PM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
I would be curious to see what correlation there is between GMs who are setting encounters at ranges which are too close to make archery useful and GMs who use the tactical combat regularly. I suspect if you have a vinyl hex mat that is, say fifty hexes across, most encounters will take place at a range of less than fifty yards.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sword-dancer (Post 891014)
No i read the same and i read it was the same hoax as was when Karl Martell is praised for stopping the Invasion of the Arabs by Poitiers.

And I'm sorry, I want to hear more about how the Battle of Tours is "the same hoax" as Ogadai Khan's death, seven centuries later. If you mean that these are both historical points which get romanticized as near-misses for Europe almost falling to invaders, I grant there is a certain thematic similarity. Still, I am keen to hear any support for your notion that after an expansion that gave them an empire reaching from Sea of Japan to the Adriatic, they were stopped by some woods.

Polydamas 12-03-2009 12:01 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 891659)
Late medieval longbows also mark almost the sole point at which bows were more than ways to harry and inconvenience an armoured enemy.

I believe that those horsebows which were useful in war were also at 100 lbs. or so. I've at least seen several studies with reproductions of that weight.

I don't understand. Most low tech troops weren't well armoured, and most low-tech armies included large units of archers. So the fact that a bow with moderate draw is unlikely to penetrate armour isn't an argument against such bows being used in battle. The prevalence of armour on the late medieval battlefield may have something to do with the high draw weight of contemporary longbows and crossbows, but it may be something else. After all, the warbow wasn't likely to penetrate contemporary armour either ...

There's an article in Barry Molloy ed., The Cutting Edge (2007) on Scythian bows which has a good summary of the physics involved (although it overstates its argument for the effectiveness of bows with a moderate draw). The weight and design of an arrow set limits on the strength of bow it can be usefully fired from, and we have tens of thousands of arrows from military contexts which could not have benefitted from draw weights of 50 kilos or more. An article "Experimental Archaeology" in Antiquity 62 (1988) pp. 658-670 has two replica composite bows (one Late Bronze Age Egyptian and one Early Modern Crimean Tartar) based on examples used in war. Both have draws of under 30 kg.

Sword-dancer 12-03-2009 12:11 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Evil Roy Slade (Post 891703)
If you mean that these are both historical points which get romanticized as near-misses for Europe almost falling to invaders, I grant there is a certain thematic similarity. .

Exactly, the idea that a provincial ruler tried to in vade frank during a civil war in his own county is a bit much.
Quote:

they were stopped by some woods
they couldnīt feed their ponies in this lands and their lines must be overstretched, that was a raid in both cases not an invasion

nik1979 12-03-2009 12:16 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Evil Roy Slade (Post 891703)
I would be curious to see what correlation there is between GMs who are setting encounters at ranges which are too close to make archery useful and GMs who use the tactical combat regularly. I suspect if you have a vinyl hex mat that is, say fifty hexes across, most encounters will take place at a range of less than fifty yards.

I'm surprised why not just scale the hexes depending on encounter range. If it is 50 hexes across, scaling 1:4 and 5-6 seconds per turn is possible until some enough characters move into melee to make the shift to 1:1 and sec by sec turns viable.
edit:>> At 100-200yrds Vision Checks should be made to track movement in light forests. At 50 to 100 at medium density forests. Closely packed heavy forests thick with bushes and low branches (un-thinned by fires) will be 30 to 70 yrds Vision checks.

Maybe someone needs to put out a "pre-scaled" 6 second combat turn system extrapolating on the basic system. the Second by Second rule is only useful in duels and skirmishes of small nos.

Larger skirmishes (for me more than 7-10 individual units to coordinate) tends to need time scaling. There is a terrible inefficiency when there are long moments of non-action or trivial-actions going back while going through initiative rounds.

>> Edit:
Useful GM notes: (should take 2 mins for the GM to arbitrarily fill out).
Hex-Scale:
Time-Scale:
Visibility Notes:
Movement modified by Terrain (x scaled time)
- DX TDM Terrain
- Hustling
- Running
Survival notes: (crap on a roll of margin of failure X)
- Natural Hazards
- Animal Hazards
Navigation notes: (crap on a roll of margin of failure X)
- Area Knowledge
- Path-finding

Icelander 12-03-2009 12:33 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Polydamas (Post 891707)
I don't understand. Most low tech troops weren't well armoured, and most low-tech armies included large units of archers.

I'm not at all sure about 'most' and 'large'. Missile weapons were useful, certainly, because they allowed a degree of control over the battlefield and the enemy's movements.

But apart from horse archers (who won by harrying until the enemy force was routed), the bow was not usually a battle-winning weapon. Rome certainly didn't field significant archer contingents (yes, I'm aware that they fielded archers, but as a percentile of their total strength, hardly important).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Polydamas (Post 891707)
So the fact that a bow with moderate draw is unlikely to penetrate armour isn't an argument against such bows being used in battle. The prevalence of armour on the late medieval battlefield may have something to do with the high draw weight of contemporary longbows and crossbows, but it may be something else. After all, the warbow wasn't likely to penetrate contemporary armour either ...

A bow with a moderate range has shorter range and is unlikely to penetrate anything, be that armour, thick cloth or incidental debris used as cover.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Polydamas (Post 891707)
There's an article in Barry Molloy ed., The Cutting Edge (2007) on Scythian bows which has a good summary of the physics involved (although it overstates its argument for the effectiveness of bows with a moderate draw). The weight and design of an arrow set limits on the strength of bow it can be usefully fired from, and we have tens of thousands of arrows from military contexts which could not have benefitted from draw weights of 50 kilos or more. An article "Experimental Archaeology" in Antiquity 62 (1988) pp. 658-670 has two replica composite bows (one Late Bronze Age Egyptian and one Early Modern Crimean Tartar) based on examples used in war. Both have draws of under 30 kg.

When you say Scythian bows, do you mean actual TL1 designs or just variations of that shape? Because early composite bows were nowhere close to the quality of later ones.

In any event, Adam Karpowicz believes that Turkish composite bows of 90-160 lb draw were common and I find his research convincing. It is true that in order to benefit from a heavy draw, you generally need a heavy arrow, but the optimum breakpoint is very different depending on the design of bow. A composite bow might use an arrow of only half the weight of a selfbow of the same draw and achieve comparable (or superior) energy.

The lighest examples of warbows he has tested were 67 lb. and that's meant to be used on horseback.

nik1979 12-03-2009 12:34 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Which actually brings up the nasty problem of Bow type being more correlated to ST Requirement than Dmg.

You can't have a ST17 Yew warbow, before the bow is too awkward to handle for a medium sized characters. Since bow mass and material corresponds to the ability of the material to hold an amount of force one can mend the excess damage of Thr+3 to Thr+2 and just redistribute the bow strength.

up to...
Yew Bow ST11, 2lbs
Yew Warbow ST13, 3lbs
Laminate Warbow ST14, 4lbs
Composite Bow ST15, 4lbs
Composite Warbow ST17, 6lbs

Icelander 12-03-2009 12:44 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nik1979 (Post 891728)
You can't have a ST17 Yew warbow, before the bow is too awkward to handle for a medium sized characters. Since bow mass and material corresponds to the ability of the material to hold an amount of force one can mend the excess damage of Thr+3 to Thr+2 and just redistribute the bow strength.

That's rather surprising.

I mean, considering that real people are using real warbows of 180-200 lbs. right now. Made out of yew.

And if that's not ST 20, well, what is? Those are the heaviest bows used, whether you measure selfbows or composite bows. And from the best Douglas Cole and I can measure, using the Basic Lift tables, it is ST 18-20.

nik1979 12-03-2009 01:07 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 891731)
That's rather surprising.

I mean, considering that real people are using real warbows of 180-200 lbs. right now. Made out of yew.

And if that's not ST 20, well, what is? Those are the heaviest bows used, whether you measure selfbows or composite bows. And from the best Douglas Cole and I can measure, using the Basic Lift tables, it is ST 18-20.


Ok then scale it up then. Anyway, how heavy are the 200lb draw bows? They can't be 3lbs like the one in the books (or are they)?
Anyway I'm not privy to the mass to mechanical energy formula. I'm not even sure if those Warbows take 1 second to draw. Do we know how much time did the person take to draw the bow? Given that its a 200lb draw, a ST15 (45lbs BL, 90lbs with two arms and Back are part of the pull) would be able to generate 180lbs of pull in 2 seconds.

GURPS assumes a 1 second draw which is BLx2-ish. Although we don't really have solid evidence that draws were made using just 1 second or 2.
10 Shots per Minute means 6 seconds per shot. Makes it plausible that the archer uses 2 seconds to generate "work" needed to draw the 140lb bow per shot.

Assuming on 2sec Draw
ST11, 96lbs
ST13, 135lbs (1d+2 pi; most common draw weight; strongbow perk, ST11, Bow DX+2)
ST15, 180lbs
ST17, 230lbs

ST11, 50lbs can be achieved in a one second draw.

David Johansen 12-03-2009 01:10 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Okay, you guys are missing a lot of stuff here.

First off, area denial. Bring your caltrops and oil flasks. If you're in a dungeon the approach is narrow enough for this. If the GM is foolish enough bring a sack or two of marbles. They're great on stairs too but soap works well too. Bring your shield wall buddies and have them crouch behind their large shields with their spears poking out.

Bring a brazier or fire box of hot coals and some arrows with oil soaked rags wrapped around the tips. Hey, your dependant can carry it right? Especially when faced with wooden huts with thatched roofs (and gazebos), fire is your friend. If you've got a little time you can put a puddle of lamp oil where they have to run through it and then light it as they come.

High St crossbows cocked by the barbarian are fun but they take a long time to reload, cost a lot, and weigh too much. When possible a bow is just as good against unarmoured parts of your foe. If you're playing with piecemeal armour, shoot the legs or weapon arms if they aren't armoured.

Also, as others have mentioned, mobility is good. An archer who can run 7 hexes will rarely be in danger from a heavily armoured fighter. If the GM will let you take it Clinging is a wonderful thing for an archer.

Icelander 12-03-2009 01:29 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nik1979 (Post 891742)
Ok then scale it up then. Anyway, how heavy are the 200lb draw bows? They can't be 3lbs like the one in the books (or are they)?

Mostly, yes. Bows range from maybe 1 lb to 3 lbs. Anything a PC would be using is probably 2-3 lbs.

There are heavier bows, but these suffer greatly in performance.


Quote:

Originally Posted by nik1979 (Post 891742)
Anyway I'm not privy to the mass to mechanical energy formula. I'm not even sure if those Warbows take 1 second to draw. Do we know how much time did the person take to draw the bow? Given that its a 200lb draw, a ST15 (45lbs BL, 90lbs with two arms and Back are part of the pull) would be able to generate 180lbs of pull in 2 seconds.

You draw in one motion. If you didn't, you probably couldn't draw at all and you certainly couldn't hit anything.

Depending on the breaks, people probably draw about 2.25-2.5xBL. An average person, ST 10, uses something between 40-50 lb. The strongest bows are 200 lb.

Drawing a bow is not precisely the same as lifting stuff, so realistically, we can't expect an exact match. But it's far closer to 2xBL than 4xBL.

Bow penetration is far too high at high ST scores, off course. But that, as Douglas Cole noted earlier, is something only a completely revised damage system for GURPS could fix.

Johnny Angel 12-03-2009 01:44 AM

Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?
 
Is it possible that a good way to explain the ability to draw a heavy bow could some sort of specialized version of Arm ST? Perhaps gained via a Special Training perk?


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