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Old 11-27-2009, 07:46 PM   #25
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Central Europe
Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
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.
"It is easier to banish a habit of thought than a piece of knowledge." H. Beam Piper

Last edited by Polydamas; 11-27-2009 at 07:49 PM.
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