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Old 11-27-2009, 04:57 PM   #21
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Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

Originally Posted by chris1982 View Post
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.
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Old 11-27-2009, 05:50 PM   #22
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Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

Originally Posted by Kaldrin View Post
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.

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Old 11-27-2009, 07:04 PM   #23
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Default 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.
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Old 11-27-2009, 08:26 PM   #24
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Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

Originally Posted by DouglasCole View Post
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.
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Old 11-27-2009, 08:46 PM   #25
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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.
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Last edited by Polydamas; 11-27-2009 at 08:49 PM.
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Old 11-27-2009, 09:58 PM   #26
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Default 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.
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Old 11-27-2009, 10:41 PM   #27
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Default 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.
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Old 11-28-2009, 08:40 PM   #28
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Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

Originally Posted by Molokh View Post
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!'
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:42 PM   #29
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Default 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 :)

Last edited by Phoenix42; 11-29-2009 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:04 PM   #30
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Default Re: Role of archers in low-tech parties?

Originally Posted by Phoenix42 View Post
(invest a few $ in barbed arrows).
actually default 2$ war arrow is barbed arrow.
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archer, bow, fantasy, low-tech

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