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Old 11-20-2008, 11:31 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default Low-Tech Missile Weapon Range and Accuracy

In design for GURPS 4e, the decision was made for playability and heroism to allow low-tech missile weapon some pretty impressive stats. Bows have a very long range and exceptional accuracy, slings do Swing pi damage at very long range and for strong men they can strike harder than 9mm bullets, crossbows are more accurate than pistols and muskets, etc.

I don't intend to slam the basic GURPS rules for this. The design goal was adventure and heroism, not realism, so it makes sense for Legolas, Robin Hood and King David to have effective weapons.

But in a campaign where these missile weapons co-exist with early firearms (reasonably realistically modelled by GURPS), the 'heroic average' weapons perform much better than the historical weapons that should have replaced them. Neither PCs nor their enemies will reasonably want to exchange bows, crossbows and slings for 18th/19th century firearms, let alone earlier ones. Let's look at an example:

Composite Crossbow , ST 11 (typical soldier for much of history):
Acc 4, Damage 1d+4 imp, ROF 1(4), number of shots per minute with Fast-Draw: 25

Baker Rifle:
Acc 3, damage 3d pi++, ROF 1(30), number of shots per minute with Fast-Draw 3.

The crossbow delivers an average of 15 damage per shot to an unarmoured man vs. the Baker Rifle's 21, but that's cold comfort against the longer effective range and much higher rate of fire for the crossbow. Not to mention that it's possible to use a more powerful crossbow which allows a strong and trained man to exceed the damage of the Baker Rifle and still fire faster, more accurately and at a better range.

And a Baker Rifle is a much better weapon than early firearms.

Yes, I understand that a Baker Rifle is cheaper at a $100 vs. the Composite Crossbow $900, but that's at least partially due to the mass production of firearms at TL 5. An early musket competing with crossbows at TL4 doesn't have those advantages and will cost almost as much as the crossbow.

But, as I said, I'm not here to curse the darkness. Instead, I only want to know what reasonable stats for the thrown weapons, bows, crossbows and slings in GURPS would be. If they weren't 'heroic average' weapons, what would be their stats?

Just so an individual GM can correct them in his game, if he so chooses.
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Old 11-20-2008, 11:51 AM   #2
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Default Re: Low-Tech Missile Weapon Range and Accuracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
In design for GURPS
Yes, I understand that a Baker Rifle is cheaper at a $100 vs. the Composite Crossbow $900, but that's at least partially due to the mass production of firearms at TL 5. An early musket competing with crossbows at TL4 doesn't have those advantages and will cost almost as much as the crossbow.
AS I understand it, the adoption of early gunpowder weapons had more to do with politics that inherent superiority (this is 1500-16XX era, so TL 4). The advantage was that governments could control who had them more easily, because there were fewer gunsmiths around than people who knew how to make bows/crossbows, and few people could make significant quantities of powder on their own, while arrows/bolts are trivially easy for a person with the right skills to make.
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Old 11-20-2008, 11:53 AM   #3
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Default Re: Low-Tech Missile Weapon Range and Accuracy

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Originally Posted by DAlillama
AS I understand it, the adoption of early gunpowder weapons had more to do with politics that inherent superiority (this is 1500-16XX era, so TL 4). The advantage was that governments could control who had them more easily, because there were fewer gunsmiths around than people who knew how to make bows/crossbows, and few people could make significant quantities of powder on their own, while arrows/bolts are trivially easy for a person with the right skills to make.
There were a lot of reasons.

But the fact remains that Acc 4 for a typical crossbow is astronomically high. I'm looking for a more reasonable number, for it and for all other GURPS missile weapons.
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Old 11-20-2008, 11:59 AM   #4
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Default Re: Low-Tech Missile Weapon Range and Accuracy

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Originally Posted by DouglasCole
And then be prepared to restat punching/kicking (base sw/thr) damage, or else you can do that more effectively than you can strike enweaponed.
If we assume that we're not looking to change the basic assumptions of GURPS, but just reduce ranged weapon stats down to more managable levels. Damage will still be based on the ST table, at least for me, and I'm just looking for stats that fit at typical human ST rates.

Reducing sling damage in exchange for making them pi++ is one thing that could be done. Your example fits a typical soldier using thr damage for his sling. The advantage of a sling over just throwing rocks would lie in the damage type, not damage dice. But that ignores the fact that slings probably have advantages over thrown rocks when it comes to penetrating armour as well.
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Old 11-20-2008, 12:00 PM   #5
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Default Re: Low-Tech Missile Weapon Range and Accuracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
But, as I said, I'm not here to curse the darkness. Instead, I only want to know what reasonable stats for the thrown weapons, bows, crossbows and slings in GURPS would be. If they weren't 'heroic average' weapons, what would be their stats?

Just so an individual GM can correct them in his game, if he so chooses.
And then be prepared to restat punching/kicking (base sw/thr) damage, or else you can do that more effectively than you can strike enweaponed.

I'm not disagreeing with your overall observation, and re-statting ranged projectile weapons based on velocity and cross section would be quite doable.

For example this resource: http://slinging.org/index.php?page=t...hom-richardson puts sling velocity at 30-40m/sec. They're 15 to 18mm in diameter. Using my formulae for bullets, a 60g stone with 15mm cross section (diameter) and velocity of 40m/s should do about 2.2 points of penetration damage, with a wound modifier of 3.0.

In short, a sling thrown with those properties is about 1d-1 pi++

Arrows are faster and heavy as well, about 60g and 60m/s, with a smaller cross section for the shaft (call it 10mm). That represents a shot from a 150lb bow according to http://www.stortford-archers.org.uk/medieval.htm and would do about 3.8pts of damage (1d) and the shaft itself would have a wound modifier of about 1.9.

So about 1d impaling is about right for the 150lb warbow. A crossbow fires roughly the same velocity, but is much easier to aim and train and hit with, at the cost of long reload times.
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Old 11-20-2008, 12:07 PM   #6
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Default Re: Low-Tech Missile Weapon Range and Accuracy

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Originally Posted by DouglasCole
Arrows are faster and heavy as well, about 60g and 60m/s, with a smaller cross section for the shaft (call it 10mm). That represents a shot from a 150lb bow according to http://www.stortford-archers.org.uk/medieval.htm and would do about 3.8pts of damage (1d) and the shaft itself would have a wound modifier of about 1.9.

So about 1d impaling is about right for the 150lb warbow. A crossbow fires roughly the same velocity, but is much easier to aim and train and hit with, at the cost of long reload times.
In your opinion, what's the GURPS ST required for a 150 lbs. warbow? And how long was the direct fire range of such a bow?
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Old 11-20-2008, 12:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: Low-Tech Missile Weapon Range and Accuracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander
In your opinion, what's the GURPS ST required for a 150 lbs. warbow? And how long was the direct fire range of such a bow?
Most warbows seem to have been fired indirect; 240m is the calculated range for the bow I talk about above.

I believe I've posted a conversion from ST to bow poundage in these forums before, and I'll go look and edit. I imagine that what we have is a ST12 bowman with +2ST for special exercises and one or two levels of Strongbow...likely that 150lb bow is ST16 or so, but let me go look.

Found it...draw weight is 2.25 x Basic Lift, so a 150lb bow would be ST18, and you'd need both +2 to draw ST from skill and +2 special exercises to be reasonable ST and draw this bow. Since I have a mental model of bench press being about 7xBL, ST14 would be a person who could press about 275. Strong, but not insane.
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Last edited by DouglasCole; 11-20-2008 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 11-20-2008, 12:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: Low-Tech Missile Weapon Range and Accuracy

Are the muscle powered weapon stats wrong?
I know long-bows were better than 18th century muskets. Wasn't it Washington who would have preferred his army be armed with them?
One of the reasons for the change from muscle-power to gun-powder was training time. Crossbows and muskets are DX/E, default DX-4; Bows are DX/A, default DX-5. I'd not heard the one about centralised production before - you learn something new every day.
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Old 11-20-2008, 01:22 PM   #9
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Default Re: Low-Tech Missile Weapon Range and Accuracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by DouglasCole
Most warbows seem to have been fired indirect; 240m is the calculated range for the bow I talk about above.
So, if it's a ST 18 bow, range is x15 ST.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DouglasCole
Found it...draw weight is 2.25 x Basic Lift, so a 150lb bow would be ST18, and you'd need both +2 to draw ST from skill and +2 special exercises to be reasonable ST and draw this bow.
Is there a compelling realism-based reason to avoid a simpler relationship to Basic Lift?

And, also, aren't most normal men capable of drawing bows of ca 60 pounds? Doesn't that argue that the relationship probably should be more like 3 x Basic Lift?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DouglasCole
Since I have a mental model of bench press being about 7xBL, ST14 would be a person who could press about 275. Strong, but not insane.
Hmmm... I imagined that with equipment and training, bench pressing 8 x Basic Lift was reasonable.

Otherwise, all my friends are ST 14+, with the exception of a few ST 12 weaklings.

Is that really reasonable?
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Old 11-20-2008, 01:28 PM   #10
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Default Re: Low-Tech Missile Weapon Range and Accuracy

Quote:
Originally Posted by jacobmuller
Are the muscle powered weapon stats wrong?
I know long-bows were better than 18th century muskets. Wasn't it Washington who would have preferred his army be armed with them?
One of the reasons for the change from muscle-power to gun-powder was training time. Crossbows and muskets are DX/E, default DX-4; Bows are DX/A, default DX-5. I'd not heard the one about centralised production before - you learn something new every day.
GURPS bows can punch through plate at over 200 yards and are no harder to use than muskets. Crossbows are actually easier to shoot accurately than 18th century muskets.

A soldier using a Brown Bess musket with 2 points in Guns (Musket) has skill 11 and fires at effective skill 13 after aiming. A soldier using a Composite Bow with 2 points in Bow has skill 10 and fires at skill 13 after aiming. The crossbow-using soldier with 2 points in Crossbow has skill 11 and fires at effective skill 15 after aiming.
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