View Full Version : Improving ranged combat - comment

2007-09-17, 11:19 PM
I've been working on an homebrew world, trying to fix many things that I think are wrong with D&D. Some just flauvour-wise but most balance-wise.

One of those things is ranged combat, which obviously needs a boost. I've put together some rules I think give a nice boost to archers.

Note: I'm missing a new ranged weapon magical property that allows you to change the str rating of a composite within certain limits. The idea is not mine but I don't recall where I saw it (I know it was in a topic in these boards). I would like to find the person who wrote it to ask permission to use it in my world.

Note 2: I'm using the wepons group variant instead of proficiencys so bear that in mind. If you have no idea what I'm talking about check it here (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/buildingCharacters/weaponGroupFeats.htm).

I'm also missing a way to boost trown weapons, and that too might be a special magic weapon property, one better then returning....

Anyway this is what I've written in the mentioned world site.

Comment away please.

Ranged Combat:

Ranged combat is even an worse option then TWF. Even more feat intensive, even more problems with damage, feats that are takable as lower levels are made useless by higher level feats, the big advantage (the range) is ussualy lost due to the game tendencys for fights to happen at close quarters. The list goes on... There's 3 main ways to fight ranged in D&D and while they all share some of the problems each also has it's own unique problems:

Crossbows: The most problematic in terms of damage. The base damage is the highest but little ways to increase it. It's also interesting that a warrior who knows how to use crossbows and 100 other weapons cannot use the repeater versions, who share the firing mecanism and only differ on the reloading method. It's also strange that, the same warrior who can use 100 weapons needs exactly the same effort to learn how to use them as the proficient-in-half-a-dozen-weapons wizard. And to top it all, in 99% of the situations, repeaters are not even better then normal crossbows.

Bows: The best ranged weapons and still weak. You can get some bonus to damage from str but it makes the price go up rather high, which is a problem at lower levels. Also unlike a melee the bonus is set and if the warrior improves in str he doesn't get mroe damage out of it.

Trown weapons: The best ranged weapons early on, but virtually unusable at higher levels because you cannot make full use of multiple atatcks. You either get quick draw and trow multiple weapons (but can't afford to magically enchant'em all) or you make a returning one but it limits your mobility and still doesn't allow use of multiple attacks.

So most of the fixes will be trough improving feats, but some weapons will have some differences too.

Bows: All versions of composite bows cost half the usual price to upgrade the str rating. So basically each point of str rating on a composite bow costs 50gp.

Crossbows: The Weapon Group (crossbows) includes the light and heavy versions of the crossbows. If you are proficient in at least two other weapon groups (excluding basic weapons) you're also proficient with the repeater versions and with the hand crossbow.

The reloading time of all crossbows (and magazines for repeaters) is as follows:

Hand Crossbow: Free action, needs a free hand
Light Crossbow: Move action, needs a free hand
Heavy Crossbow: Standard action, needs a free hand
Repeater Light Crossbow: Free action, needs a free hand; magazine: standard action, needs free a hand
Repeater Heavy Crossbow: Free action, needs a free hand; magazine: full round action, needs free a hand

If you're not proficient with a repeater type of crossbow, but you are proficient with the normal version of it, you don't incur the usual -4 penalty to hit with it. Instead the reloading time of the magazine increases by one step. If you're not proficient with the normal version of the repeater crossbow you take both the reloading penalty and the to-hit penalty.

New (improved) Feats:

Rapid Reload
Requisite: Proficiency with the selected weapon.
Benefict: The reloading time of the weapon decreases by one category.
If the loading time already is a free action, you no longer need a free hand to do it (you use your whole body as you aim to pull the strings and levers). If you already didn't need a free hand, all attacks made at a lower BAB then the first get +1 to hit*.
If the loading time becomes a move action and you have a BAB of +1, you can combine it with a normal move action, just as drawing a sheeted weapon or readying/losing a shield. You cannot combine both a free draw and a free reload with a move action.
Special: In case of repeater crossbows the realoding time that decreases is that of the magazine. However the other rules still apply. This means that you no longer require a free hand to reload each shot (but you still do to reload the magazine) and in the case of teh light crossbow you can combine the loading the magazine with a move action (if you have a BAB of +1).

* Exemple: a 6th level fighter with a Dex modifier of +4 using a bow would have a bonus of +10 to hit with his first attack and a +5 bonus to hit with his second attack. If he had this feat the second attack would have a bonus of +6 to hit instead.

Rapid Shot
Requisite: Dex 13, Point Blank Shot
Benefict: As normal for Rapid Shot. Additionally when you reach a BAB of +6 the Rapid Shot penalty is reduced by 1, and at a BAB of +11 you no longer have penaltys for Rapid Shot.
Special: As normal for Rapid Shot.

Sharpshooting & Precise Shot
Requisite: As normal
Benefict: As normal
Special: If you have both feats, once you reach a BAB of +11 and a Dex of 19 you gain all the beneficts of Improved Precise Shot.
If you're an 11th level Ranger who selected the Archery Combat Style and you aquired the Sharpshooting feat by normal means, you can replace Sharpshooting with another ranged combat related feat.

Far Shot:
Requisite: As normal
Benefict: As normal. Additionally the range for bonus granted by other ranged combat feats (ex: Point Blank Shot) or special abilities which only function with ranged attacks up to a certain range (ex: sneak attack, skirmish) also increases by 1,5.

Requisite: As normal
Benefict: As normal. However once you can fire more then 2 arrows you can instead choose to fire less arrows at a lesser penalty as follows:

At BAB +6: Two arrows at -4.
At BAB +11: Three arrows at -6 OR two arrows at -2.
AT BAB + 16: Four arrows at -8 OR three arrows at -4 OR two arrows at no penalty
Special: As normal

2007-09-17, 11:28 PM
An easy way to boost ranged combat is to put the PCs farther away from their enemies before combat starts. While ranged combat fails to match to pure damage potential of a good melee build, attacking from a far enough distance will provide enough time to deal a considerable amount of damage before the enemy even has time to attack. In most games, the huge range of your ranged weapons never comes into play. Change that.

2007-09-17, 11:38 PM
While I apreciate your interest in helping me I was hoping to see comments on my changes...

But yes you are right, however that is not always possible. First the most common D&D environnement, the dungeon itself (it's in the freaking game name! :smallbiggrin:), ussualy doesn't allow that at all. And even many other environnementdon't allow that too. Sometimes even environnements that would allow it don't. A desert.... at night.

Second even in open areas, players sometimes just can't allow themselves to be that far away. They can be surprised, they may have to catch someone they're fighting, etc...

Lastly, there's group preassure. Most of the other characters (who most certainly are not ranged guys) don't really have any beneficts of starting a fight that far away. Maybe the arcanist can chuck a few spells but the melee warrior or rogue certainly want to start teh fight as close as possible to the enemy to start dishing out greatsword powered attack and sneak attack damage.

Reminds me of someone's solution to my question on another topic on how to boost half-elves: "more social encounters". While true, doesn't really solve the problem....

2007-09-17, 11:41 PM
All thats needed to improve ranged combat is more feats/abilities to support it, at low levels a character with a composite longbow is just as deadly as one with a longsword (perhaps even more, rapid shot FTW), but as time goes on the melee character gets loads of cool abilities, while the ranged character has little to look forward to.

For example, Fax made a ranged style for ToB style characters awhile back, and with that a bow using crusader could stand right along side a sword using one and be just as good, it's all a matter of abilities.

2007-09-17, 11:42 PM
Splitting Enhancement from Champions of Ruin. I fire one arrow, it splits into two arrows. Each has its own attack roll. And thus each qualifies for Sneak Attack or Skirmish. Combine with Greater Manyshot and a half decent ranged combat build. (I prefer Rogues or Psychic Assassins). When done correctly, it has the same damage output as a full caster. Sometimes better. No homebrew needed.

2007-09-17, 11:42 PM
Wants...comments...on... self... made... rules... :smallfrown:

2007-09-17, 11:47 PM
I like what you did with Far Shot. One of the failing points of a ranged rogue is that that having to fire within 30 ft. to get precision damage really negates the advantage of having a ranged weapon.

Recommendation: Add a new feat that allows you to deal precision damage at any range as a full round action. Not only will this make ranged rogues slightly more effective, it will also satisfy those people who want to build crossbow snipers and the like. Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, and maybe Sharpshooting should be perquisites.

2007-09-17, 11:51 PM
There's a feat that allows you to do that at 60ft. Not exactly unlimited range....

Crossbow sniper (whcih also adds 1/2 dex to crossbow damage). Skirmish and sneak attack ranges up to 60ft....

How about something along the lines of Death Attack? You would need to study the target for 3 rounds and use a full roudn action to shoot and obviously be prone to do it.

2007-09-18, 12:45 AM
Deepwood Sniper PrC. Admitedly not a rout for everyone, but incredibly effective. Our current campaign is at lvl 8 and one of us took that class. His crits max damage is around 70, and he seems to crit with alarming regularity. He's just as much a ranged powerhouse as our half-ogre warhulk is a melee one. Our DM had a blue dragon (who's meant to be a recurring villian) attack us once and he went straight for the sniper and proceeded to gleefully wipe the walls with him. I think he was working out some issues from all the monsters he's one/two shotted from 100+ feet away.

EDIT: oh, and the feat reworks sound pretty good. I'll run them by my DM, but I think he'll ban them from the sniper. Everyone else can have them, though.

2007-09-18, 01:35 AM
The only problem I ever have with ranged combat is finding a druid strong enough to make me a +1 fiery, frost, shock, seeking bow and multiple +1 holy bane arrows; and a psion for my +1 Psychokinetic arrows.

John Campbell
2007-09-18, 02:59 AM
Bows: All versions of composite bows cost half the usual price to upgrade the str rating. So basically each point of str rating on a composite bow costs 50gp.
I think you could go farther here. Bow weight is the sort of trivia that we don't keep track of for anything else. We don't force melee fighters to buy a new weapon every time their Strength modifier goes up; I don't see any good game-balance reason that we should force archers to.

There's some justification from a realism perspective, but once we start talking realism, we run into other problems. Like the fact that it doesn't, realistically, make any sense for heavy-pull bows, within normal ranges, to be vastly more expensive than light-pull bows. A little, yeah, and more once you start having to have them custom-made, but there's no rational reason for a +2 bonus bow, for someone strong but not terribly exceptional, to cost four times as much as a +0.

Especially once you start talking magic bows. We've got armor that automagically adjusts to fit its wearer, within reasonable limits of shape and size; why do bows not have this feature?

AD&D just assumed that when characters bought a bow, they got one that had an appropriate pull for their Strength. They all cost the same, up to 18 Str, and above that, it was a simple x3 to x5 multiplier. It didn't matter how much above 18 they were - the extra was because it was custom work to fit someone exceptionally strong, not because the bowyer trimmed a little bit less wood off it. This system never gave us any trouble, and I don't see any reason not to go back to it.

(And don't even get me started on the composite vs. non-composite nonsense. Historical English longbows were simple bows, not composite, and had pulls in the 100-pound-and-up range. I'm fairly strong and an experienced archer, and I can't get a bow like that to anywhere near full draw. No Str bonus, my ass.)

2007-09-18, 11:19 PM
I would still like to hear some more opinions so.... RISE!

2007-09-19, 12:10 AM
Well, I feel the need to at least MENTION my groups new ranged weapon designed for our campaign world.

LinkyLinky (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3203504&postcount=97)

Definately doesn't work in a low-magic world, but it doesn't necessarily need a high-magic world either. Intended to give fluff for a weapon befitting a fantasy western, and give ranged combat a little mechanical kick in the seat.

2007-09-19, 01:53 AM
If the bonus strength from Composite bows is a problem for you, just eliminate the idea of bows being made for a specific strength at all. It might be a tad unrealistic, but it's way less of a pain in the rear to just let your fighter who just got a belt of strength +4 to just add his extra strength without making him drop another 700 gold on a new bow. Also, it might make Barbarians more prone to use bows while enraged. If the unrealism gets to you, you could introduce a +1 equivalent bow enhancement called "Mercurial pull" which magically modifies the structure of the bow to perfectly suit whoever wields it.

As far as the other rules are concerned, they're all minor enough that I'd have to see them playtested to be sure of anything. The ability to reload a bow/crossbow without a free hand seems a little wonky, and I'm not sure what you were going for there. The bonus +1 to hit on iterative attacks seems hard to keep track of, but otherwise it seems to be logical increases in the power scale of a weakish combat option without going completely overboard.

One thing worth noting however, is that Ranged combat seems to be one of the only ways to really contribute at the high levels for Fighty types. Once you start fighting Balors and Dragons, who can pretty much control the range of the fight with impunity, you need a way to make your destructive full attacks consistently. I don't know what bearing this statement has on anything else, but I already made it... it can't be undone.

2007-09-19, 01:57 AM
Thanks a lot for your comments Jerthanis.

About the crossbows, the idea is to be able to make dual-wiedling hand crossbows who don't have to quick draw new crossbows or something like that....