View Full Version : [3.5] Help with Crossbows

2009-01-05, 08:35 PM
Got a new campaign starting up and i'm looking for some advice in the character build i'm putting together. Wanna roll with the repeating crossbow as my main weapon and i'm slightly confused about a couple of things

is rapid reload worth it with a repeating light?

Is manyshot applicable? since in the feat description it only mentions "arrows"?

General thoughts on the pros and cons of using a repeating cross?

Is the Crossbow Sniper feat worth it without any percision based damage (SA, Sudden Strike or Skirmish) in my build?

I'm running a 4 Fighter, 16 Artificer and my stats so far are Str 10, Dex 16, Con 14, Wis 10, Int 16, Cha 16.

Thoughts, suggestions, constructive criticisms all welcome. Trying to put a decent build around a character concept i really wanna play so complete optimization isn't the goal here :)

2009-01-05, 08:41 PM
Crossbows are generally very inferior to (composite) longbows, but a fairly heavy investment in feats and items can make them worthwhile.

The Great (?) Crossbow from RoS is pretty nice, and the Gnomish Crossbow Sight from A&E is also pretty good.

There is a 3rd party feat from Paizo that allows you to apply a lot of feats to a crossbow that would otherwise apply only to bows...

You can load crossbows with blinding speed and even fire them in melee with little fear of reprisal.
Prerequisites: Dex 15, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Reload, Rapid Shot
Benefit: The time required for you to reload any type of crossbow is reduced to a free action, regardless of the
type of crossbow used. You can fire a crossbow as many times in a full attack action as you could attack if you were
using a bow. Reloading a crossbow for the type of crossbow you chose when you took Rapid Reload no longer provokes
attacks of opportunity.
Special: A fighter may select Crossbow Mastery as one of his fighter bonus feats. A ranger may select Crossbow
Mastery in place of Manyshot for his improved combat style at 6th level.


2009-01-05, 08:58 PM
The Crossbow-section is actually one of the very few things up in the Archery Handbook (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=642.0). Unfortunately, Repeating Light Crossbow is pretty much the worst out of the bunch unless you plan on akimbo them (very feat intensive, and even then, there're better options); I suggest either using a Repeating Heavy Crossbow to get more bang for your buck, or a standard Light Crossbow with Rapid Reload-feat (the better option overall).

Basically, Crossbow Sniper is the feat that makes using Crossbows worth it. That means that you need to focus on Dexterity and Dexterity alone. While the bonuses to damage aren't full, they aren't negligible either and getting the added To Hit can be valuable. I personally find dualwielding crossbows to be the way to go; using one generally doesn't add that much to the overall effect. Great Crossbow and Repeating Heavy Crossbow are exceptions to that idea, of course; they're fairly efficient at what they do and especially Great Crossbow kicks ass if you can get free reloading for it (with e.g. Ghostly Reload [RoTD]-spell, which you'd have access to as an Artificer quite easily).

It's a real pity to give up 4 levels of Crafting Reserves and all that for Fighter-feats; are you sure you want to do it? The best reason I can come up with is going for Ranged Weapon Mastery, but that's really efficient only for dual-wielding Crossbow Archer builds. On the other hand, Artificer's abilities hit the very core of making a Crossbow efficient; adding lots of enhancements to it and using buff spells to boost the attack ability.

Manyshot doesn't work with Crossbows by RAW, and it doesn't really make any sense either; loading multiple bolts into the crossbow at once is nigh' impossible and if you do manage, it's more like to cause a malfunction than extra damage. Rapid Reload is for non-Repeating Users.

2009-01-05, 08:59 PM
I actually had a very similar character once and honestly your feat selection is up to you on this one. I personally took rapid reload, crossbow sniper, and rapid shot but not many shot. i thought that they paid off in the full run of my character. Basically what i did was put a round towards casting bane on my merciful heacy repeating crossbow every fight and bam mega damage. So you may not have out right killed your target but they are down for the count and prime for a killing blow. At that point you just need to walk up and get your hands dirty.

2009-01-05, 09:01 PM
If I'm not mistaken, Rapid Reload only applies to loading the clip of bolts into the Repeating Crossbow. It reloads itself as long as it has bolts in its clip, so Rapid Reload isn't really worth it.

However I'd like to point out that the repeating crossbow is rather pointless until you can make more than one attack per round anyway. Its primary point is that it can fire quickly.

As far as I can tell, Manyshot does not work with crossbows.

I do like the Great Crossbow and the gnome crossbow sight. Great for sniping.

Iku Rex
2009-01-05, 09:09 PM
The repeating crossbow is not worth it. You pay a feat to use a rare and expensive exotic weapon, and in return you get to reload 5 shots as a free action before you have to spend a full-round action to put in a new box.

If you just get Rapid Reload instead you can reload as a free action as often as you like.

Of course, you'll want the quick loading (+1, MIC) weapon enhancement ASAP, so Rapid Reload may be become a wasted feat if you can't retrain it.

You're right, Manyshot says "arrows" and won't work with crossbow bolts.

Crossbow Sniper is usually a must-have, but your Dex probably won't be too great so I'm not sure if you want it. (You'll be going for Weapon Specialization and Ranged Weapon Mastery [PHBII] I assume.)

The fighter/artificer multiclass is sub-optimal. How do you intend to take those levels? Are you starting at level 1? Human?

2009-01-05, 09:48 PM
playing dnd, leave the crossbows at home. if you really want to be william tell, play a different system.

2009-01-05, 10:35 PM
playing dnd, leave the crossbows at home. if you really want to be william tell, play a different system.

They make for the best longrange TWF weapons. By far. Also, a crossbow archer is SAD while a longbow archer needs to choose between Str for damage and Dex for to hit. They are also quite good precision damage dealers thanks to Crossbow Sniper increasing the range to 60', so no, they aren't useless. They aren't good out of the box though, but with enough work, there're plenty of ways to make decent Crossbow builds.

2009-01-05, 11:09 PM
I don't know about feats, but I have looked around for dual wielding crossbow stuff. There are two aspects you need to mitigate: loading the bolt (requires 1 hand, free action) and pulling the lever (requires 1 hand, move action). So, you basically need another hand whatever you do, unless you can get it to load and arm itself.

Quick Loading from the Magic Item Compendium has been mentioned, and is the easiest way to take care of loading the bolts, but you still need a hand to pull the lever, so you can't use two at the same time (and since it's the lever pulling that takes time, I don't even get why quick loading speed you up...). To pull the lever, I suggest either an Unseen Servant, or the previously mentioned Ghostly Reload. IIRC, they're both 1st level, but the reload has a limited number of uses. The servant will last hours, but has a limited speed if you're moving, and can only reload once per round, assuming it's readying an action to do so. If you use a repeating crossbow, the servant could man both the reloading levers/cranks/whatever, and you could keep a third one to use when you hand one off to the servant to reload.

The easiest way to do it would be to get your DM to just let the fast reloading enhancements (there are plenty of versions) to take care of both the lever and the bolt so you can do what you want.

Bonus: There's a specific magic weapon in the Arms and Equipment Guide that is a pump action heavy repeating crossbow, which causes a fear inducing crack when you pump it. Awesome.

2009-01-05, 11:22 PM
Thanks for the feedback guys.:smallsmile:

Well i'm going to upgrade from the repeating light to the repeating heavy, no reason not to really given the difference in the weapons themselves. Higher damage dice, longer range.

The who skit with taking a repeating crossbow instead of a light crossbow/rapid reload or similar is i like the more mechanical feel of the repeater, and i think it wins out with style points :P for all that matters

The character i have at the moment is as follows, and please note this is only a preliminary build, still have things up in the air atm.

Race: Human
Align: Neutral Good

Str 10, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 16
Attribute Points = 2 into dex, 2 into either Int or Cha once i figure out which is better, and 1 left over i have no idea what to do with :P

Level Progression
Level 1 - Artificer
Levels 2 - 5 - Fighter
Levels 6 - 20 - Artificer.

Human - Exotic Weapon Pro - Heavy Repeater

1st Fighter Bonus - Weapon Focus - Heavy Repeater

1st Level - Point Blank Shot

2nd Fighter Bonus - Precise Shot

3rd Level - Rapid Shot

4th Fighter Bonus - Weapon Finesse Or Crossbow Sniper

6th Level - Weapon Special - Heavy Repeater

4th Artificer Bonus - Exceptional Artisan

9th Level - Legendary Artisan

8th Artificer Bonus - Exceptional Artisan

15th Level - Extraordinary Artisan

12th Artificer Bonus - Exceptional Artisan

18th Level - Empower Spell

16th Artificer Bonus - Exceptional Artisan.

Other Notes
Ends up with a BAB of 15, 6th level infusions and all the artificer bonus abilities and a craft reserve of 2000 at 20th.

I looked over ranged weapon mastery, and i'm not entirely convinced its worth a feat. and i'm seriously considering the Crossbow Sniper feat over weapon finesse due to my dex hitting 18 as soon as possible. Again thanks for the help guys and any further suggestions you might have would be great :D

2009-01-05, 11:49 PM
Ranged Weapon Mastery kicks weapon specialization's and weapon focus's ass any day. If you take those feats, you have to take it. +2 damage and to hit to all your piercing ranged weapons (specifically stacks with Weapon Specialization and Weapon Focus) and 20' extra range is actually worth a feat. The only reason to take 4 Fighter-levels instead of extra Artificer-levels is Ranged Weapon Mastery. The only reason to take Weapon Specialization is Ranged Weapon Mastery.

And take Crossbow Sniper instead of Weapon Finesse; you shouldn't need to wield melee weapons practically ever anyways and getting Much More Than Weapon Specialization extra damage (especially in the long run once you craft a Staff with Divine Agility [Spell Compendium; level 5 Cleric, grants +10 enchantment to dexterity minutes/level] on it) is well worth a feat. If you do end up in melee, you can just get Feycraft [Dungeon Master's Guide II weapon template] weapons that are automatically treated as if you had Weapon Finesse. But really, no, you don't; just 5' step away. Or use a quickened Wand or something.

I'd also consider not taking Exceptional Artisan 4 times. First of all, it's illegal. Second of all, it's wasteful. Third of all, it doesn't stack with itself, so it's useless too. Fourth, your DM may smack you for it. Instead, move your other Artisan-feats to those slots. In the other slots, Quick Draw could be a fine feat instead (draw those crossbows (extra copies when you run out) as a free action, as well as all the Wands you need to use; just drop the old one to get full-round actions while using Swift Action Wands), and since you're definitely more into the buff-route than the blast-route, pick Extend Spell and Persistent Spell. Also, Ranged Weapon Mastery. Switching bows works since thanks to your Greater Magic Weapon-infusion, you'll have an effective free access to a huge number of permanently very magical bows.

Also, remember that "Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Repeating Crossbow" grants you proficiency in both, Light and Heavy versions. Something to keep in mind. And if you don't take Ranged Weapon Mastery, just drop the damn Fighter-levels entirely and take 20 levels of Artificer. Those better infusions and more free crafting (and an extra bonus feat) definitely pay themselves back. Getting more uses of higher level spells easily kicks +2 damage's ass.

Oh, and that build ends with BAB 16. Just sayin'. Although since you'll be using Divine Power every day anyways (get that damn Persistent Spell and you can have it up all day), might as well say it's 20. Another reason not to bother with the Fighter-levels.

As for attributes, cram all into Dex. Seriously, that's all you need. And try to come up with a way to boost it to 18 already at the start; like try to lower your Cha and Str a bit as you need both for very little (Cha for UMD and Str for nothing). Of course, if those are rolled stats and there's nothing you can do; alas poor Yorik, I knew him...in America! And if you wonder "why put the stray point in Dex", the answer is:
Manual of Quickness of Action +5 (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/wondrousItems.htm#manualofQuicknessofAction)

By the time you're assigning the last point, you'll have read this too. In combination with Divine Agility, your Dexterity (if you can find means to start with 18) would be 38; 34 without the buff (Gloves of Dexterity +6 or so). That means +14 to hit and +7 to damage.

2009-01-06, 12:00 AM
Cheers and oops on those feats : \ i ment to take 2 copies of each of the three artisan feats, due to the note in the ECS stating that you could take them multible times and they stack. So 50% off time, cost and xp seemed like a good idea to me :smallredface:

aaand i read Ranged Weapon Mastery wrong apparently, i didn't realise it stacked with Focus and Specialization. And yeah, taking that and sniper now i've looked at them both.

I'll see about cutting down to a 25% off bonus for the magic item crafting and taking some of the buff-line feats you mentioned. Much more solid idea for a supportive character.

2009-01-06, 12:04 AM
I just realized you have 10 in Constitution. If you don't have a death wish, I suggest you do something about that; succeeding your Reflex-save vs. area-of-effect damage doesn't help you much if the collateral damage kills you anyways. Also, failing Fort-saves is never cool, and when someone crits your face with Scythe, surviving>not surviving.

2009-01-06, 12:13 AM
playing dnd, leave the crossbows at home. if you really want to be william tell, play a different system.

It makes perfect sense for low level wizards, sorcerers, and other rear guard types to carry crossbows. If the low level wizard doesn't want to use one of their few spells (e.g. the particular encounter may not demand it) then plugging away with a heavy crossbow doing 1d10 or a light crossbow doing 1d8 isn't that bad of an idea.

Actually, it could make sense for all characters to carry a crossbow or longbow. If the enemy is seen from a distance then the characters should be able to get a free ranged shot.

2009-01-06, 12:32 AM
yeah, the con was a typo, my bad. Has a con of 14

As an update i give the revised feat list.

Exotic Weapon Pro Repeating Crossbow
Weapon Focus Repeating Crossbow
Point Blank Shot
Precise Shot
Rapid Shot
Crossbow Sniper
Weapon Specialization Repeating Light Crossbow
Legendary Artisan
Quick Draw
Ranged Weapon Mastery
Extraordinary Artisan
Exceptional Artisan
Extend Spell
Empower Spell
Persistent Spell

revised stats
Str 8, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 14.
3 points to Dex, 2 Points to Int,

2009-01-06, 12:42 AM
Take Persistent Spell before Empower Spell. Frankly, I have trouble seeing why you'd want Empower Spell in the first place; seems to have little enough to provide when your offense is in your Bolts anyways, and the best way to go about it is buffing your ability to shoot things (once you get a Force Crossbow, no stinkin' Walls and such will trouble you any longer).

There're other feats such as Quicken Spell, Wand Mastery, Extra Rings, Craft Construct and so on that are much more valuable for that slot. Also, move Persistent Spell earlier. Heck, I'd pass Exceptional Artisan down the line; getting to do it a bit faster just isn't that much of an issue, especially since the bulk of the work is probably done by Dedicated Wrights (a type of Homunculus) held in your Bag of Holding.

Also, you should ask your DM, if "Practiced Spellcaster" could be used to improve your Infusions; whether your Greater Magic Weapon Infusion is +3 or +4 (for most of your career) makes quite the difference.

2009-01-06, 01:15 AM
There are two parts to reloading a crossbow: pulling back the string, and loading a new bolt. There are magical enhancements that will do both of these things for you. Quick Loading (Magic Item Compendium; +1 enhancement cost) will load a new bolt automagically. Self-loading (Arms and Equipment Guide, +10,000 gp cost) will pull back the string. Add both of these enhancements and you've got a semi-automatic crossbow.

Unless you're running a feat-heavy build (typically Fighter) I'd suggest not spending a feat on Exotic Weapon Proficiency (repeating heavy crossbow). You could in the short term spend a feat on Rapid Reload to accomplish exactly what quick loading does, and later retrain that feat when you can afford quick loading as an upgrade.