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Old 04-23-2017, 01:20 AM   #1
lordabdul's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Default Balanced games for archers

Hi everyone,

So I'm GMing a game where most of the party are melee fighters (axe, quarterstaff, sword, etc.) but a couple are ranged fighters (bow). I'm having some trouble balancing the game to make combats interesting for the archers.

There are 2 different problems to solve, it seems:

1) Designing enemy groups and combat situations that make archers an undeniable asset to reach victory without losses
2) Using the proper rules (including maybe house rules) to prevent more downtime for archers than for melee fighters.

For the first problem, I'm really open to ideas and suggestions. It looks like, first, I should have NPCs reflect the PCs, by having a few archers on the opposite side too, so archers can fight each other, potentially. Second, I could try to make even the melee NPCs move more tactically, in a way that makes it harder for the melee PCs to hit them, and is therefore advantageous to have someone with a bow aiming from a distance and shooting them so that the melee PCs can get at them.
Any other tactics or NPC design things I should know?

For the second problem, I'm not sure yet. Melee characters do move and/or attack every turn, pretty much. Sure, things like move and attack give them penalties that make it less likely for them to succeed, but at least the players are _doing_ something (rolling dice, describing actions, etc.). In comparison, archers typically do something once every 3 or 4 turns. Maybe once every _other_ turn if they have (and succeed at) "Fast-Draw (Arrow)" and _don't_ aim (but frankly it's better to aim at least one turn unless you are in a high-powered game). So that's a lot of turns spent not doing much, which some players get frustrated about. I'm wondering if I'm missing something there that would make it less boring to play archers? I was considering an "All-Out Ready" maneuver that lets you perform a "Ready" maneuver as usual, but with your full move in exchange for no defenses until next turn. This is because I feel it's quite hard in GURPS to play a character with a ranged weapon that would, say, aim and shoot from a position, and then quickly get to another position and shoot from there, and then move again and shoot from another position. Running between 2 cover positions while reloading a bow or gun seems like a sensible and realistic thing to do, but it seems the rules force you to stop for a turn? Or am I missing something?

A related problem is also the difference in average damage-per-turn -- I'm not sure an archer can ever rival someone with a good melee weapon there, but I guess that's OK, because they have the advantage of not being in the melee with NPCs hitting them... but that's not super awesome when you can't be too far either because of distance penalties... so the NPCs can get to you in a couple turns at most. That's where, it seems, archers are a lot less frustrating if you use location rules: it's easy (or at less hard) to cripple an NPC with an arrow to the leg and stay out of reach, but not so much when arrow damage goes to the torso (which means the archer has to aim to buy off the penalty of aiming a limb! Which goes back to the problem of spending too many turns not doing anything!). But maybe, again, I'm missing something? How do you use your bows in your games?


Last edited by lordabdul; 04-23-2017 at 01:25 AM.
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