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Old 10-31-2017, 07:15 PM   #1
VariousRen
 
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Default [DF] Stealthy Archery in Forests

I'm running a dungeon fantasy game with a strong focus on wilderness adventures and travel. Two of the delvers are particularly well suited to ranged combat in forests, with stealth scores of 19 or 20 and camouflage scores of 14 or 15. DF2 has solid rules for roguish types backstabbing in melee combat, but those rules don't seem to provide much support for distant bow attacks that might not have you instantly spotted. A recent example had the archers engaging a pack of ghouls at 100 yards, where the range penalties alone would reduce the ghouls vision based Per to 2 or 3.

Does anyone have suggestions for how to run combat with stealthy ranged fighters? I've considered having stealth rolls at a penalty after each shot, treating the archer as "in plain sight" while firing for a +10 to vision, or letting people hone in on the bow fire by sound and the trajectory of the arrows even if they don't spot the archers until they are right on top of them.
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Old 10-31-2017, 07:21 PM   #2
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Default Re: [DF] Stealthy Archery in Forests

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Originally Posted by VariousRen View Post
Does anyone have suggestions for how to run combat with stealthy ranged fighters? I've considered having stealth rolls at a penalty after each shot, treating the archer as "in plain sight" while firing for a +10 to vision, or letting people hone in on the bow fire by sound and the trajectory of the arrows even if they don't spot the archers until they are right on top of them.
A Stealth roll after each shot certainly seems reasonable. I probably wouldn't impose the "in plain sight" modifier, certainly not if they're using Camouflage as well as Stealth regularly. However, I might impose penalties to the archers' shots for cover between them and the target if they're regularly trying to claim to be hidden before taking the shot - what stops them from being seen should also stop them from seeing!

For figuring out where an arrow is coming from, I think I'd probably have the enemies roll Observation or Per-based Tactics to spot the direction the shots are coming from. Once the archers' general direction is identified, their Stealth and Camouflage rolls start being opposed in Quick Contests, rather than rolled straight, which means they'll probably fail after a bit. And if they want to move away and find a new place to shoot from, remember they take a -5 to Stealth if they're moving faster than Move 1!
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Old 10-31-2017, 08:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: [DF] Stealthy Archery in Forests

Also note, that though a bow twang can be pretty distinctive*, especially once your buddy sprouts a few shafts, there are ways to stifle the noise with out reducing the bow effectiveness.

In fact... I'd say hands down every archer would have already tuned the bow and put slap padding and string silencers on their bows. So at best you're listening for the soft sound of the arrow sliding along the riser (which is pretty similar to the Hollywood "sword being drawn" sound), which isn't very loud. At best call it +2 to hear a bow shot if you are listening for it (which at 30+ yards is nigh imperceptible). This can even be reduced to (maybe) 0 by padding the rest and the riser with soft leather. It does interfere slightly with shooting, so I'd impose a -1 unfamiliarity penalty to an archer who just silenced this piece and a -1 to the ST of the bow (cumulative with string silencers, as both interfere with the function of the bow, but separately neither really impede that much, it's only together that I'd bother).


* I'd call an untuned, unsilenced bow about +6 to Hearing tests. It's about +4 for unsilenced, and +2 for untuned (as well as a penalty to shooting for it being untuned - though that's a familiarity penalty that the archer can get used to if they don't tune it for some reason).
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Old 10-31-2017, 09:04 PM   #4
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Default Re: [DF] Stealthy Archery in Forests

I'd imagine that the first shot would make anyone realize that they are being shot at. That puts targets onto high alert.
And of course knowing that it's vaguely over there is still reducing the known arc of enemies from 360 to under 180 degrees.

I wouldn't impart too many penalties as that may make the players feel cheated out of all the points and effort they put into making stealth monsters.
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Old 10-31-2017, 10:28 PM   #5
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Default Re: [DF] Stealthy Archery in Forests

I dont think string silencers are anywhere near period. However, though a deer can hear the release I doubt normal people would be able to at any distance. Even less likely if they are in combat.
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Old 10-31-2017, 11:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: [DF] Stealthy Archery in Forests

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I dont think string silencers are anywhere near period. However, though a deer can hear the release I doubt normal people would be able to at any distance. Even less likely if they are in combat.
It's dungeon fantasy. All sorts of stuff isn't "period". And a string silencer isn't exactly something a bowman couldn't make himself.
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Old 11-01-2017, 02:01 AM   #7
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Default Re: [DF] Stealthy Archery in Forests

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I dont think string silencers are anywhere near period. However, though a deer can hear the release I doubt normal people would be able to at any distance. Even less likely if they are in combat.
Hmmm. I've done ten seconds of googling... and... it looks like this is true. In fact, it looks like they aren't needed when firing wooden shafted arrows at all, as the heavier shaft helps to slow the string and dampen the twang.

It's only when firing modern lightweight aluminum an fiberglass shafts that the string vibrates enough to make the distinctive 'twang' after the arrow leaves the string.
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Old 11-01-2017, 02:57 AM   #8
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Default Re: [DF] Stealthy Archery in Forests

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Originally Posted by Verjigorm View Post
It's dungeon fantasy. All sorts of stuff isn't "period". And a string silencer isn't exactly something a bowman couldn't make himself.
Rules for them are in High-Tech, p201.
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Old 11-01-2017, 07:07 AM   #9
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Default Re: [DF] Stealthy Archery in Forests

Also keep in mind the wind level. In a forest, it can be very quiet with no wind (everything further away gets slightly muffled), but very noisy if wind is rustling all the treetops.
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Old 11-01-2017, 10:39 AM   #10
VariousRen
 
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Default Re: [DF] Stealthy Archery in Forests

Thanks for all the advice, here's how I'm thinking about running situations like this in the future:

Each shot with a bow gives enemies a new vision based Per quick contest to spot the archer. If the archer is fast drawing arrows this vision check is at +4. If the archer is camouflaged the target must beat both their stealth and camouflage rolls.

Additionally, each bowshot gives enemies a hearing roll to locate the general direction and distance of the shot. High Tech pg.158 lists the unmodified hearing roll distance for a bow as 4 yards (and a crossbow as 8). Bowstring silencers give a -2 to hearing, and apparently medieval arrows and bows didn't suffer from the distinctive twang that gives modern bows away. I'll treat all bows as either naturally silenced or assume any skilled DF archer has made themselves some bow silencers. That effectively moves our unmodified hearing roll to 1 yard. Every doubling of this distance gives a -1 to hearing. Additional penalties are added for foliage, -1 for light forest, -3 for jungle, -2 for something in between. Finally, many helmets give Hard of Hearing for another -5! At 100 yards in moderate forest this would be a hearing roll at -8 or -13.

Finally, once enemies are unstunned they can attempt a Per based tactics roll to work out the direction of the shooter based on where shots are coming from (crucial for taking effective cover!). They receive a bonus based on the number of shots fired; read the distance as shots fired on the speed/range chart to find the bonus. If shots are being fired from more than one direction they have a -4 to figure out anything other than "They're in the god damn trees man!". If a shooter pauses their shooting to reposition they can subtract the number of yards they move from the shots they fired for this tactics roll, but will have to abandon any camouflage and allow a quick contest of vision vs stealth. (at -5 if they move faster than move 1).

This feels like it gives stealthy ranged characters some teeth, but also gives other characters an effective way to respond. High Per characters may spot shooters earlier while those with tactics can quickly figure out where the shots are coming from and direct allies to take cover. Spells like Plant Vision may prove very useful for depriving shooters of concealment (shooters hiding behind trees and bushes may suddenly have +10 for being in plain sight!).

Let me know what you think and if you see any problems with the rules above.
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