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Old 12-03-2009, 12:01 AM   #71
Polydamas
 
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Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
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.
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Old 12-03-2009, 12:11 AM   #72
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Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

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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.
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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
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Old 12-03-2009, 12:16 AM   #73
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Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

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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
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Last edited by nik1979; 12-03-2009 at 12:36 AM.
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Old 12-03-2009, 12:33 AM   #74
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Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
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).

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
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.

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
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.
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Old 12-03-2009, 12:34 AM   #75
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Default 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
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Old 12-03-2009, 12:44 AM   #76
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Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

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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.
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Old 12-03-2009, 01:07 AM   #77
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Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
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.
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Old 12-03-2009, 01:10 AM   #78
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Default 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.
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Old 12-03-2009, 01:29 AM   #79
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Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

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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.


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Originally Posted by nik1979 View Post
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.
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Old 12-03-2009, 01:44 AM   #80
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Default 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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