BOWS Including self bows (ordinary bows), compound bows (bows made of two types of wood), composite bows (bows made with wood as well as horn and other substances) and crossbows. Types of Arrowheads A very important and often overlooked factor in archery of any kind, whether using a crossbow or self bow, was the type of arrow (or bolt) used. Many types of arrowheads were fashioned for both types of weapon, but functionally there were at least three broad types: The standard hunting arrow (your stereotypical arrowhead shape) the broadhead arrow, a wider triangular shaped arrow designed to cause maximum injury (also used for hunting), and the bodkin or armor piercing arrow, with a narrow head designed to punch through armor at the risk of causing less damage on the way in. Short Bow Preparation time: 2-4 rounds total. Pull arrow 0 (on ground) 2 (in quiver), knock back and draw 2 Refresh begins with drawing the arrow. 2 MP dice to reduce prep. Time by one second at Reflex /TN of 8 Attack Target Number (ATN): 6 Effective ST: 4 DR (Damage Rating): ST -1 (5 Total) Draw Weight: 30-50 lbs Range: +1 ATN per 10 yards Unstrung length is 3-4’. Maximum effective direct fire range is about 50 feet, as much as triple that for indirect / area fire. Penetration is sufficient to kill up to that range, but not sufficient to defeat medium to heavy armor. Historical This ubiquitous weapon was found all over the world and was in widespread use in some places until the 19th century. In Europe the short bow began to be phased out by the early medieval period, increasingly replaced by heavier and more militarily effective longbows, recurve bows, crossbows, and firearms. By the Renaissance period the short bow was an extreme rarity on European battlefields Recurve Bow Preparation time: 2-4 rounds total. Pull arrow 0 (on ground) 2 (in quiver), knock back and draw 2 Refresh begins with drawing the arrow. 2 MP dice to reduce prep. Time by one second at Reflex /TN of 8 Attack Target Number (ATN): 6 Effective ST: 5 DR (Damage Rating): ST +1p (6 total) Draw Weight: 50 – 80 lbs Range: +1 ATN per 15 yards Usually fired with a thumb ring, this moderately powerful weapon was made with some composite materials (sinew and horn as well as different types of wood) allowing it to be relatively compact (with a draw strength of about 50 - 60 lbs), small enough to be fired from horseback. Historical The classic ancient weapon of the near east, found in Persia, Arabia, and Anatolia going back to the earliest classical times (Weapons of this type were used by the Parthians and even the Assyrians). Recurve Composite Bow Preparation time: 2-4 rounds total. Pull arrow 0 (on ground) 2 (in quiver), knock back and draw 2 Refresh begins with drawing the arrow. 2 MP dice to reduce prep. Time by one second at Reflex /TN of 8 Attack Target Number (ATN): 7 Effective ST: 6 (now one with a lower ST may draw this bow) DR (Damage Rating): ST + 1p (7 total) Draw Weight: 80 –120 lbs Range: +1 ATN per 20 yards Sophisticated compound weapons, the built-in recurve made them exceptionally powerful. Draw strength was high, from 80- 120 lbs or even more, and range was double that of a normal bow, with penetration significantly better. Like the longbow, these weapons could be fired in volley at area targets, making them exceptionally dangerous. Historical The weapon of choice of the central Asian steppes, favored primary weapon of the Huns, the Bulgars, the Magyars, and the Mongols, to name a few. Very powerful and relatively compact, small enough to be fired from horseback. Long Bow Preparation time: 2-4 rounds total. Pull arrow 0 (on ground) 2 (in quiver), knock back and draw 2 Refresh begins with drawing the arrow. 2 MP dice to reduce prep. Time by one second at Reflex /TN of 8 Attack Target Number (ATN): 7 Effective ST: 5 DR (Damage Rating): ST + 2p (7 total) Draw Weight: 80 – 140 lbs Range: +1 ATN per 25 yards A bow five to six feet, normally as tall or slightly taller than the wielder, and too long to be fired from horseback, the longbow is typically made of yew, and fires a three- foot-long arrow. The effective volley range of the longbow was 180 - 250 yards when firing in a high arc, though the maximum direct fire range (where a human sized target can be specifically attacked) was closer to 75 yards. The draw strength was impressive, somewhere between 80 - 110 pounds, requiring a strong and experienced individual to use the weapon. An expert yeoman can shoot 10 to 12 arrows a minute. The longbow could punch through light and medium armor. Historical These types of weapons were actually used in many different cultures and in many different periods of history, (all the way back into the Neolithic period, in fact). They seemed to go in and out of favor or prominence, existing even while other much weaker and less effective weapons were much more widely used on the battlefield. The issue seems to be that a culture of archery and constant training had to exist in order to make the weapon effective. The Welsh (and later, their masters the English) were by no means the only people in history to make use of a long, strong draw longbow, which also seems to have been known in Scandinavia, among other places, but they were perhaps justifiably the most famous. Welsh Yeomen were trained from when they were very young solely for the longbow, a significant part of their training included firing in volleys at large sheets, to practice battlefield area-fire. CROSSBOWS Crossbows have been in use for centuries, all over the world. During the Classical period in the Mediterranean, their use was relegated to light hunting weapons and large siege engines, while in China, light repeating crossbows were in use. By the dark ages, heavy military and hunting crossbows began to appear which were developed through the medieval period until so powerful that they could slay armored opponents. Contrary to legend, the crossbow remained a popular military weapon alongside early firearms until well into the Renaissance, and their eventual replacement by muskets and the arquebus had more to do with expense of manufacture and relative difficulty in training marksmen than with any difference in power. Late Renaissance era military crossbows were slow to span but once prepared were formidable weapons indeed. Methods of loading a crossbow There isn't one 'generic' way to span (load) a crossbow. Light crossbows could easily be spanned by hand, wheras heavier crossbows such as an arbalest could not be spanned without mechanical assistance. For the heavier types, a number of tools were available, each of which could assist the marksman in different ways in preparing their weapon to fire. Some, like the foot stirrup, spanner, and belt hook, merely augmented the strength of the marksman, while others such as the windlass and cranequin, properly used, were sufficiently strong on their own to span any crossbow no matter how powerful. Spanning (loading) the crossbow requires three or more successes on a Strength check, with the TN being the draw in pounds divided by 100, rounded up. Thus the TN of a heavy crossbow with a 350 lb draw is 4. The TN for a typical Arbalest is 6-10. This is called the spanning roll. The following methods apply to spanning all crossbows: Foot stirrup By far the most common accessory for loading a crossbow. Foot stirrups are often incorporated into moderately heavy crossbows. Using the Foot Stirrup subtracts 2 from the spanning TN but takes +2 Rounds preparation time. Belt Hook The belt hook is an accessory to the foot stirrup. A hook on the belt is attached to the bowstring while the bow is cocked, thereby allowing the muscles of he back and legs to be used to span the string. Subtracts 1 from the spanning TN but takes +3 Rounds preparation time to span. Goats - Foot Acting as a lever to multiply the strength of the marksman, the "goats foot lever", also called a gaffle or simply ‘spanner’, has the advantage of being relatively quick and fairly easy to use. Subtracts 2 from the spanning TN but adds +3 Rounds preparation time to span. Winch Though ingenious for it's time, the winch or windlass was a clumsy apparatus to use. Loading a crossbow with this fairly complicated device is an awkward process takes a rather inordinate amount of time but it subtracts 4 from the spanning TN, at the expense of taking + 8 rounds preparation time to span. Cranequin By far the superior method for setting the most powerful crossbows, the main drawback of the simple and effective cranequin is its expense. Using the cranequin subtracts 3 from the spanning TN but adds +4 rounds preparation time to span the weapon. Light Crossbow Preparation time: 4-6 rounds total. Pull arrow 0 (on ground) 2 (in quiver), span and knock 4 Refresh begins once the bolt is cocked. 2 MP dice to reduce prep. Time by one second at Reflex /TN of 8 Attack Target Number (ATN): 5 Effective ST: 4 DR (Damage Rating): ST + 1p (5 total) Draw Weight: 80 - 120 lbs Range: +1 ATN per 10 yards A simple crossbow capable of being spanned by hand. Draw weight was between 60 and 120 lbs. The prod (bow) was made of wood or more rarely horn. This was a hunting weapon suitable for taking small game. Though it would not normally be considered appropriate for military use it is powerful enough to pose a threat of serious injury to anyone being shot with it, and it could kill if striking a vital area. Penetration is somewhat less than that of a short self bow. Historical Light crossbows were used all over the world, including China and the Pacific Islands going back to bronze age and before. They were known to the Greeks though not considered very valuable as military weapons. (The Greeks however perfected many much stronger siege engines based on the crossbow, such as the ingenious Gastrophetes) Hunting Crossbow Preparation time: 4-6 rounds total. Pull arrow 0 (on ground) 2 (in quiver), span and knock 4 Refresh begins once the bolt is cocked. 2 MP dice to reduce prep. Time by one second at Reflex /TN of 8 Attack Target Number (ATN): 5 Effective ST: 5 DR (Damage Rating): ST + 2p (7 total) Draw Weight: 120 – 200 lbs Range: +1 ATN per 20 yards A medium powered crossbow suitable for hunting light and medium game, but also sufficiently powerful to be used for self defense. The prod (bow) was made of wood, composite materials (wood, sinew, and horn) or steel. Draw weight was between 120 and 200 lbs. Penetration was somewhat superior to that of a short self bow. Requires the use of both hands to load. Many weapons of this type are made with a foot stirrup to assist in loading. Heavy Crossbow Preparation time: 4-6 rounds total. Pull arrow 0 (on ground) 2 (in quiver), span and knock 4 Refresh begins once the bolt is cocked. 2 MP dice to reduce prep. Time by one second at Reflex /TN of 8 Attack Target Number (ATN): 5 Effective ST: 5 DR (Damage Rating): ST + 3p (8 total) Draw Weight: 200 – 350 lbs Range: +1 ATN per 25 yards A very powerful crossbow for hunting big game or for warfare. Crossbows with this much draw strength were dangerous and tricky to span, and difficult to maintain. The prod (bow) was made of composite materials (wood, sinew, and horn) or steel. The bowstring would be a heavy composite cable. Draw weight was between 200- 350 lbs. These weapons required a foot stirrup for cocking, at minimum. Heavier versions required a belt hook, a spanner, a winch, or a cranequin (see below) unless the marksman had exceptional strength. It should be noted that the composite (wood, horn and sinew) prods were very vulnerable to rain, as was the bowstring / cable. A crossbow lacking a steel prod which got wet could be useless, and could even be permanently ruined. As a result oiled covers for the prod were common accessories carried by most crossbow marksmen in Europe. Many historical battles were lost when bad weather prevented the effective deployment of crossbow marksmen. Historical Hunting crossbows are the most powerful military crossbow normally in use outside of Europe. Crossbows of this type were used in central Asia, Japan, North Africa, and the Middle-East. More powerful heavy crossbows with over 200 lbs draw strength became known in Europe from around the 10th - 11th century, they were a new and dangerous innovation. Repeating Crossbow Preparation time: 1 round to cock Attack Target Number (ATN): 6 Effective ST: 3 DR (Damage Rating): ST (Total 3) Draw Weight: 40 – 60 lbs Range: +1 ATN per 5 yards Repeating Crossbows did in fact exist, (they were used in ancient Greece and by peasant militias in China from ancient times until the late 19th century!) but they had several limitations. The Chinese types fired very light bolts which were lacked fletchings (feathers) for stabilization. Thus they were weaker in impact and less accurate. Arbalest Preparation time: 4-10 rounds total. Pull arrow 0 (on ground) 2 in quiver, Spanning 2-8 rounds, depending on draw weight and spanning method (see above) Attack Target Number (ATN): 5 Effective ST: 7 DR (Damage Rating): ST + 1p / 150 lbs of draw (Max +5) (Total 8 – 12) Draw Weight: 350 – 1200 lbs Range: +1 ATN per 10 yards The arbalest is a super-heavy crossbow, so powerful that in most cases it could only be loaded by mechanical means. These very formidable weapons first began to appear in the late Medieval period as part of the arms race between ever heavier and more effective armor and the weapons which were designed to defeat it. Appearance and Design features The arbalest or armbrust (in German) is simply the ultimate refinement of the notorious heavy crossbow which gained notoriety in Europe from the Dark ages when the use of the (weaker) heavy crossbow was banned by a Papal bull for use against fellow Christians. The draw weight of an arbalest was between 350-1,200 lbs, and unlike most lesser crossbows, the prod (bow) was normally made of heavy spring steel. The bowstring was a very strong composite cable. The arbalest was so powerful it could only be spanned with mechanical assistance, often a special winch or a type of reduction gear hand crank (called a cranequin). A mistake during loading could easily lead to broken or severed fingers or worse. Marksmen skilled in the use of such heavy crossbows (usually hailing from Italy or Switzerland) were rare, highly sought after and well paid. Waxed leather covers for the prod are common accessories carried by most marksmen to prevent damage by rain. To make up for the slow firing rate, Swiss marksmen deployed with a pavise shield and two assistants, with each marksman responsible for two weapons. As one weapon is aimed and fired, the other is being spanned. This allows them to keep up a reasonably steady rate of fire if both marksman and assistants are sufficiently well trained. In Italy the Arbalest gained a less enviable reputation as a favored instrument of rebels, assassins, bandits and snipers. Highwaymen were particularly fond of using the weapon to take out armored escorts from concealment before attacking carriages. Range The arbalest was basically designed to fire its heavy bolts in a flat trajectory, and for this reason was significantly out-distanced by the justifiably famous long bows of Wales. Longbows, and the shorter but more powerful composite bows of Central Asia, could be volley-fired in ballistic arcs at area targets well beyond the range where a specific individual could be targeted. At short to medium range, however, these more precise heavy crossbows were much more accurate, could be held in readiness longer, and retained a vast superiority in penetrating power out to a greater range. This is one of the very few true armor piercing missile weapons. There are already many tales of Swiss arbalests shattering shields and splitting iron helmets, for example. Historical use The arbalest or armbrust (German) is simply a heavier heavy-crossbow which first appeared in Europe in the 14th century, the pinnacle of a series of progressively heavier European designs going back to the 8th century. Crossbows and the more powerful bows launch their projectiles at a relatively similar initial velocity, (120-350 fps) but the bolts or quarrels fired by medieval crossbows (as opposed to those of modern crossbows) were designed very differently. They were significantly shorter, heavier and wider than arrows. Due to their weight and size, they carried substantially more kinetic energy to the target, allowing the enormous power of the heavier crossbows of the period to have a significant effect on the impact of the bolt. There is a myth, apparently spread by English historians, that the Heavy Crossbow was a simple weapon which "anyone" could use. Shooting and aiming a crossbow is fairly easy, easier to master than aiming a self bow, but loading, maintaining, and adjusting a heavy crossbow is another matter entirely. Crossbow marksmen were usually highly paid mercenary specialists, often recruited from Italy, where the use of the Crossbow was more widespread than elsewhere in Europe.