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Old 07-17-2015, 05:51 AM   #1
Noctifer
 
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Default [Combat]: Do you bow, bro?

Heya, gang. Quick background: played 3rd edition back in the day, recently got back in with 4th ed, running a homebrew Fantasy tabletop.

I've tried searching for an explanation/examination of this, but can't seem to find anything. My players (for most of whom, this is their first experience with GURPS) don't see much utility in using a bow as a primary weapon.

Here's the problem:

A composite bow does thr+3 imp with a 2-second ready action. With a ST10 bow, that's 1d+1, for an average of 4.5 HP damage, double whatever gets through DR, every three seconds (assuming you hit). Get Quick-Draw (Arrow) and you can do that every two seconds, but there's a chance you're going to lose your arrow or even upend your quiver. On top of all that, there are range penalties for anyone more than 2 yards away. If you forgo active defenses and make an All-Out-Attack (Determined), you can get yourself a +1. Half-damage range is 200 yards, max range is 250 yards.

A broadsword does sw+1 cut or thr+1 cr with no ready action. With a ST10 character, that's 1d+1/1d-1 for an average of 4.5/2.5 damage, 50% increase for whatever gets through DR on swing damage. Make an All-Out-Attack (Double) and you get to attack twice per round.

Let's assume our theoretical opponents have 10 in their appropriate skills.

If we start our average opponents at 200 yards, our swordsman can sprint at 20 yards/second (barring encumbrance penalties to move). That means it'll take him 10 seconds to reach our archer.

Round 1: Swordsman moves 20 (let's say he was already sprinting), our archer considers firing (let's say he already had his bow ready and arrow nocked). According to the Size and Speed/Range table, our archer has a -17 to hit (-6 because swordsman is moving at 20, -11 because he's now at 180 yards). Not liking his chances, our archer takes an Aim maneuver.

Round 2: Swordsman is still sprinting at 20. At 160 yards, our archer is at -16 to hit (-6 for swordsman at move 20, -11 because he's over 150 yards, +1 because of Aim maneuver). Still not good, so he takes another Aim maneuver.

Round 3: Swordsman sprints 20. At 140 yards, our archer is at -14 (-6 for swordsman move 20, -10 for bing over 100 yards, +2 from Aim maneuver). Archer Aims again.

Round 4: Swordsman sprints 20. At 120 yards, archer is at -13 (-6 for swordsman move 20, -10 for bing over 100 yards, +3 from Aim maneuver). Our archer has reached the composite bow's Acc rating of 3, so he maintains his Aim maneuver.

Round 4: Swordsman sprinting, is at 100 yards, archer still at -13. Archer maintains Aim.

Round 5: Swordsman sprinting, is at 80 yards, archer now at -12. Archer maintains Aim.

Round 6: Swordsman sprinting, is at 60 yards, archer now at -11. Archer maintains Aim.

Round 7: Swordsman sprinting, is at 40 yards, archer now at -10. Archer maintains Aim.

Round 8: Swordsman sprinting, is at 20 yards, archer now at -9. Archer maintains Aim.

Round 9: Swordsman sprinting, has now closed at the end of his turn. He can take a Move and Attack Maneuver and attack at -4 and still gets his Dodge or Block. Our poor archer can finally fire with a hope of hitting, but he's even still at a -3 at point blank range (-6 from swordsman's move of 20, +3 for Aim).

Our swordsman has an effective skill of 6, giving him about a 5% chance of hitting (10% chance of rolling 6 or less, archer has a 50% chance of dodging), for an average damage of .45 damage (5% of 4.5). Our archer has an 8% chance of hitting (16% chance of rolling a 7 or less, swordsman has a 50% chance of dodging) for an average damage of .36.

Round 10: Swordsman can now take an All-Out Attack (Double) to get two attacks against his opponent. He has a 25% chance of hitting with each (50% chance of rolling a 10 or less vs. archer's 50% chance of dodging) for an average damage of 2.25 this round and an average total damage of 2.7. Our archer takes a ready action to Quick-Draw an arrow and takes an All-Out Defense (Increased Defense) to give him a +2 to Dodge next round.

Round 11: Swordsman is confident, makes the same attack, now with a 18.75% chance to hit, doing an average of .84 damage, for an average total damage of 3.54. Archer fires. There's a 50% chance he dropped his arrow last round, but our Swordsman gets no active defense, so the archer's average damage is 2.25, for an average total of 2.61.

Round 12: Swordsman has 25% chance to hit for two hits, average damage 2.25, average total damage of 5.79. Archer takes a Ready Action to Quick-Draw and takes All-Out Defense (Increased Defense).

Round 13: Swordsman does .84 damage, total 6.63. Archer fires, average 2.25, average total 4.86.

Round 14: Swordsman does 2.25, total 8.88, archer Readies/AoD.

Round 15: Swordsman does .84, total 9.72, archer does 2.25, total 7.11.

You can see where this is going. Real-world archers, of course, kept a sword at their side for when the enemy closed to melee range, but under GURPS rules, it would make sense in the scenario above for him to draw that blade in Round 8, before he ever really fires a bow (unless he'd like to take some shots with, at best, below a 2% chance to hit with each as the swordsman is sprinting at him).

While I recognize that the blade was the weapon of choice in medieval western traditions, most other pre-TL4 societies prized the bow above the blade. Under GURPS, there really doesn't seem much logic to even owning a bow, unless you've a crenelation on top of a wall to hide behind.

If you put our opponents in an interior setting with reduced ranges, the situation is even more dire. If you have a buddy to engage in melee, you might get the opponent to focus on him, but you still get the Bulk modifier of the composite bow (-7) to hit when shooting into melee.

If you have a mage using missile spells (which I do in my game) it gets even worse because they have no Acc for spells and the Aim maneuver isn't available to them.

Am I missing something?

TL;DR version: Why on earth would you use a bow in GURPS?
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:47 AM   #2
brianfb
 
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Default Re: [Combat]: Do you bow, bro?

Yeah its suboptimal. Take weapon master bow and heroic archer from gurps martial arts and its viable, but still wont compare to a sword.
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:48 AM   #3
WaterAndWindSpirit
 
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Default Re: [Combat]: Do you bow, bro?

First, the penalty due to move is for needing to lead the target (that is, aiming at where the target will be in a few seconds). If he runs toward you in a straight line, there's no need to lead.

Second, archers train for years to be efficient. In GURPS terms, your average archer probably has at least 14 in the Bow skill, and a green archer has maybe 12. The reason why armies phased out the bow was because the contemporary guns did require much less training.

Last but not least, hitting with a bow is extremely deadly. I had an archer roll a lucky hit on the party wizard once and bring him to 0 HP. He only survived because the warrior defeated the meatshields and the rest decided they weren't paid enough for this. Plus, you can use Bodkin Points which are effective at piercing armor. And in the modern world, they are good against modern body armor (Impaling damage, which modern body armor are weak against unless the target uses heavy inserts which will likely put him at a high encumbrance level), and are a relatively silent weapon.

In short, bows tend to be difficult but awesome as weapons.
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:48 AM   #4
weby
 
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Default Re: [Combat]: Do you bow, bro?

First:
On your example:
A swordman will not move 20. A DX 10 HT 10 character will have a base move of 5 and a sprint of 6.

The speed and range are combined together not calculated separately So at 200 yards, with the swordsman moving at 6 the penalty is 200+6=206 looked on the table or -13.

Thus after one round the sowrdsman is at 194yards +6 speed=200 and -12 and the archer has +3 to hit, still not enugh to allow a roll at base skill 10

One second later he could roll.. as +1 more for aim and +1 further after that..

But at 90+ yards thus -10 to hit he starts to have some possibility of hitting at 10 skill-10+5 aim.. still very low.

But you have to remember that 10 is really low skill, 12 is the skill that is seen as "basic professional" in GURPS, so could have 7- to hit and might be worth taking a shot just because he can thus try again at <70 for at 6-/8-

And again <50 for 7-/9- (this is where the 12 skill will start to have real probability of hitting)

and then <30 for 8-/10-

and then likely shoot two more shots with one above 10 yards at slightly lower aiming time for 9-/11- and the last at about 5 yards at 11-/13-

And if the swordsman does indeed do all put attacks, then it is time to get your knife out and do a telegraphic attack to the vitals..

Further on the damage: The arrows do impaling damage that is an average of 9 points on an unarmored target. One hit is enough to make the swordsman to go reeling: halving his movement speed and to have him roll for major wound and there is a 50% probability of taking him to 0 or below.. causing 50% probability of the fight ending every second. A second hit will make him roll unconsciousness almost certainly(83.3%) every second and has 16.67% probability of forcing an outright death roll.
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:53 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Combat]: Do you bow, bro?

Quote:
Originally Posted by weby View Post
But you have to remember that 10 is really low skill, 12 is the skill that is seen as "basic professional" in GURPS, so could have 7- to hit and might be worth taking a shot just because he can thus try again at <70 for at 6-/8-
More importantly, greater skill with the bow increases effective range. A person with a skill 10, without aiming, has a 50/50 chance of hitting someone 2 yards away. Someone with skill 20, without aiming, has a 50/50 chance of hitting someone 100 yards away.

Swordsmanship skill does not generally increase effective range.

At skill 10, what you have is an average guy who spent a little time at the archery range vs a guy who spent a little time at fencing school, and the results will be a rather hilarious romp in the heath as the sword guy chases after the ineffective bow guy for awhile until they get tired and the bow guy falls over and the sword guy hits him a lot, or the sword guy gets tired and gives up.

At skill 20, you have an elite sniper vs a masterful swordsman (who will probably die, unless he has parry missile weapon, in which case all bets are off)
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:57 AM   #6
brianfb
 
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Default Re: [Combat]: Do you bow, bro?

Forget his example. For the same amount of points it takes to make a viable archer, you can make a BOSS swordsman, that I think I,what he I getting at. In low point games having an attribute over 13 and a skill over 14 can be very expensive I terms of opportunity cost in character points. In the games I run and play in, it might take years of playtime to reach a skill of 20 in anything.
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:58 AM   #7
DouglasCole
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Default Re: [Combat]: Do you bow, bro?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noctifer View Post
Let's assume our theoretical opponents have 10 in their appropriate skills.
Bow-10 is not sufficient for a combatant.

You need Bow-12 to Bow-15 to be any sort of threat, ever.

Quote:
If we start our average opponents at 200 yards, our swordsman can sprint at 20 yards/second (barring encumbrance penalties to move). That means it'll take him 10 seconds to reach our archer.
Your swordsman is sprinting at 40mph here. I think you mean he can sprint at 20 feet per second, or about 6.6 yds/sec. In reality, if he's all stats of 10, he'll have Move 5, and sprint at 6 yards per second. That's 33s of being out of range.

Quote:
Round 1: Swordsman moves 20 (let's say he was already sprinting), our archer considers firing (let's say he already had his bow ready and arrow nocked). According to the Size and Speed/Range table, our archer has a -17 to hit (-6 because swordsman is moving at 20, -11 because he's now at 180 yards). Not liking his chances, our archer takes an Aim maneuver.
Even if you give penalties for straight-line movement directly at the target (and at this range, you might) the penalty for Move 5 is -2, and Move 6 or 7 is -3. But the way you do it is to add the values together (180 yds and 6 yds/sec is 186, which uses the 200 line on the table) for a penalty of -12.

This is still a crushing penalty and the bowman can't even roll. This is a real problem for Bow-10. You can only eke out something like +4 or +5 for Accuracy (Acc 2 or 3 plus 2s more of aiming), and another +1 for AoA determined, total of +5 or +6. This means total positive skill of 15 or 16, so you can only hit in combat 50% of the time at a total penalty of -5 or -6 . . . way less than 100yds.

Bow-14 pushes the 50% mark (to the torso, no less) out to 100 yds, but you're still only getting a few shots in before the swordsman is upon you . . .so don't hold your ground each turn as he gets close. Use your move to back up some to get more shots in, though this requires Fast-Draw and Quick-Ready (from Martial Arts) to be effective.
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:59 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Combat]: Do you bow, bro?

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianfb View Post
Yeah its suboptimal. Take weapon master bow and heroic archer from gurps martial arts and its viable, but still wont compare to a sword.
If you have the range a bow is superior weapon as you can soot on the go, an archer running away can still do move and attacks at a penalty without the 9 skill cap, but the melee is forced to 9- attacks at best. At lower skill levels that does not help a lot since bows have large bulk, but once your skill is closer to 20 the difference is huge.

Also a funny thing is that if you allow the multiple rapid strike option and both heroic archer and weapon master bow.. the archer becomes equal to a semiautomatic weapon..,
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:59 AM   #9
ericthered
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Default Re: [Combat]: Do you bow, bro?

You're missing quite a bit

A swordsman with move 20 is going about 40 miles per hour. Basic move in gurps for your standard guy is 5. So the bow guy gets a couple of tries.

You don't add the penalties for range and speed. It actually specifically says that. You add the ranges together and then figure out the penalty. So at 20 yards your horseman (that's about what he is) has a -8 (20 distance +20 speed) to hit, not a -12.

The archer gets a +3 from accuracy on his first aim, because of the acc of the bow. you get full accuracy the first round, then up to +2 for additional aims.

In the specific case you worked out the archer can take two steps back while aiming and get a nice 2-yard shot before he gets hit. Or simply take a wait maneuver and hit his oppenent at 2 yards and +5 to hit.

All out attack is a terrible idea IF your foe can attack you back. This is much more likely to be true for the archer than for the swordsman.

Archery gets better with improved skill than swordsmanship because of the increase in range.
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Old 07-17-2015, 07:00 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Combat]: Do you bow, bro?

You do know that sprinting 20 yards per second is ridiculous? And that you're doing something extremely wrong with your missile weapon rules (reached acc rating of 3? What?).

Oh, and you don't really get to impose a speed penalty on someone's attacks by running straight at them. And even if you did, that's not how they work, you add speed to range and take one penalty for the sum.

And did you seriously just run two combatants with base skill of 10? That's also pretty ridiculous, and particularly inimical to ranged weapons.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noctifer View Post
TL;DR version: Why on earth would you use a bow in GURPS?
Because DPS is not really what matters in combat. A bow is a ranged weapon. If you somehow mistake it for a melee weapon, you will at least remove yourself from the gene pool in a reasonably quick manner.

If you're actually using the rules right, aiming for 3 seconds gives you a bonus of Acc +2, worth +5 here. You also use an All Out Attack to pick up a +1. If, in addition to that, you're actually halfway worthwhile as an archer and have, say, skill 12 rather than a pitiful 10, you make a 50% to hit a man-sized target at 50 yards. At 50 yards, the fact that a bow is not taking people down nearly as fast as swording them in the face becomes irrelevant...


Technical aspects aside, as far as I know cultures that prized archery as a high-status martial skill are usually horse-archer cultures. (Maybe also chariot archer cultures?) Being atop a bulky, fast-moving platform gives a whole additional incentive to have a ranged weapon, and takes the issue of getting run down by swordsmen largely off the table.

In more general battlefield massed use, bows can engage at significantly longer ranges because they are aimed in large numbers at large groups of troops, rather than at individuals, and the arrows allowed to fall where they will.
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