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Wizards and Crossbows

Over in the Mage clubs discussion, we started talking about crossbows. There's enough to talk about for this to have its own thread, so here it is.

The main objection to crossbow proficiency seemed to be "they are far too mechanical and complex gadgets". Let's examine if that holds water.


Fact: Only the smartest people can become Wizards.
If it's too "complex" for a Wizard, it should be way too complex for some dumb Fighter.

Fact: Wizards make mechanical servitors like Iron Golems.
We see that Magi have already delved deep into the mechanical arts in order to make constructs which have more moving parts than a crossbow.

Fact: Wizards are good at charming, animating or summoning hordes of unskilled labor.
You know who probably invented the crossbow? I'll bet it was a Necromancer looking to fill out his unskilled undead archery department, or an Enchanter looking to make his legion of charmed goblins somewhat more threatening.


Thoughts?

DjimmyTJ_HookerEudaemoniumlunarQuartzXenoforge
«134

Comments

  • TJ_HookerTJ_Hooker Member Posts: 2,438
    edited May 2013
    Are crossbows actually difficult to operate? Complicated to build and maintain maybe (I don't actually know, but neither aspect appears in the game anyways), but I was under the impression that firing a crossbow consisted of cranking a winch, placing a bolt, and pulling the trigger. Not exactly rocket science.

    Post edited by TJ_Hooker on
    DjimmySyntia13JuliusBorisov
  • DjimmyDjimmy Member Posts: 749
    Yeah, I don't buy this "too mechanical and complex gadgets" thing too. Learning "Wish" and "Time Stop" and solving tough riddles and still cannot use a crossbow because it has a complex mechanism... Sorry my mage, you are not smart enough to pull the strings. Go learn some reality altering spell.

    francoJuliusBorisov
  • TyranusTyranus Member Posts: 268

    It'd probably take less skill for a mage to handle a crossbow than a sling. Slings are really hard to use well.

    I agree, slings, darts, and throwing daggers require extensive training, hand-eye co-ordination, and dexterity to use even somewhat effectively. Crossbows are simple enough a child can use one, as I did, when I was a child. Frankly, I trust a child more with a bow than with any edged weapon.

    Syntia13QuartzJuliusBorisovAnton
  • ZalsonZalson Member Posts: 103
    I like @Eudaemonium's point. It is a good one, especially because it challenges the argument I was going to make:

    I think the lack of Crossbow and other skills is related to a lack of and apathy toward training in arms in general. Magecraft requires more mental focus and time so the Mage can't be bothered to learn all the ins and outs of this weaponry business, etc etc.

    That is now my roleplay justification.

    francoJuliusBorisov
  • francofranco Member Posts: 507
    On the earlier thread, I said the following:

    "I have never been able to imagine a mage practicing sufficiently with a sling so that he could obtain a proficiency with it. The crossbow would actually seem easier."


    Look. The crossbow would actually be easier for the mage to handle than the sling. It's easier to aim and to shoot. The problem in BG is....

    1) The game is old classic fantasy and The classic mage weapons in fantasy literature are the staff and the dagger.
    2) The crossbow bolt pretty much delivers as much damage as the arrow, and more than the sling. To give the mage proficiency in it, might start to unbalance the game a bit.

    All said, I'm not against the mage getting crossbow. I very much like all kinds of variety in the game to make it more interesting. Somehow, though, if the mage does get proficiency in the crossbow I'd like to see him have just a little more difficulty with it (let it have a -1 penalty instead of the usual -2 penalty for lacking proficiency. If his Dex is high enough then he would automatically partially overcome that disadvantage).

    BelgarathMTHJuliusBorisov
  • SCARY_WIZARDSCARY_WIZARD Member Posts: 1,425
    CaptRory said:

    Crossbows were the answer to the English Longbow. Whereas to train an excellant longbowman you had to start with his grandfather, crossbows were much easier to learn to use. They're the sort of weapon you could hand off to a 12 year old in a besieged castle and tell him to shoot at the guys that talk funny and have us surrounded.

    Agreed, agreed, agreed!

    Even those incompetent scrub dudes on Robin of Sherwood put them to use to devestating effect in the first season...

    BelgarathMTHJuliusBorisov
  • ZanathKariashiZanathKariashi Member Posts: 2,867
    edited May 2013
    Also keep in mind that PnP Crossbows are HORRIBLY slow to fire compared to other ranged weapons. Light is 1 attack which isn't bad and makes more sense then them using slings, and heavy is only 1/2 attack (requiring 2 rounds to actually fire), and in PnP bows and x-bows can't benefit from bonus attacks from warrior levels or specialization (specialization just reduces the to-hit penalty for firing at close range or at targets in melee and increases the damage of close range shots). Not to mention the fact they horrible thac0, so the massive volume of dart fire (3 attacks per round) is actually a better choice since you're more likely to cause damage.

    As long as the wizard has the minimum strength to cock the thing, he should be able to use it just as well or better as that nearby simpleton peasant. Medieval crossbow training was measured in HOURS...literally like 4-8 hours of practice and you could be good enough to kill heavily experienced knights.

    And yes I find it utterly ridiculous that they can use slings but not crossbows....Slings are the most complex ranged weapon to actually use in the entire game....just getting the rock to go in the right direction is hard enough....actually having enough force to do damage or hit a target in a specific place requires YEARS of practice...they're up there with bows in terms of time requirements to use well.


    But slaves, antiquity armies and shepherds have been using them for forever you might say....well yeah...slinger armies are drilled day in and day out in the practice of the slings (Similar to longbow users in England)....while shepherds...you're sitting in a field watching over sheep...a generally uneventful occurrence 80% of the time...they practiced using a sling to pass the time, and it was also a useful skill for hunting or defense.


    And I disagree with the first point....the minimum intelligence to be a wizard is 9 (allowing up to 4th level spell casting in 2nd edition, which is lvl 7+, which is extremely high for non-PC characters that aren't old grizzled veterans)...that falls within the range for the intelligence of an average peasant (wizardry is more about finding a teacher to actually show you the basics which the average peasant usually won't have, especially since a scroll for a first level spell would require about a years income for the average peasant, assuming they had no other expenses). Yeah your ability to actually learn spells is pretty awful (about 35% or so), but it's do-able...smarter wizards just have an easier time.

    [Deleted User]BelgarathMTHlunarJuliusBorisov
  • IkMarcIkMarc Member Posts: 552
    edited May 2013
    Probably it went more like: "hmm, which weapons make sense for a mage to use in this fantasy game" rather than an extensive consideration on realism and the complexity of the weapon.

    atcDaveBelgarathMTHlunarJuliusBorisov
  • LemernisLemernis Member, Moderator Posts: 4,264
    edited May 2013
    Wizards are much more powerful casting spells (and using wands) than they could ever be with a crossbow. I'm not worried about a crossbow in the hands of a mage unbalancing the game. (A Fighter/Mage can already use one, as can Bards.) Mages usually have high Int and Dex to begin with, so I see no reason why they shouldn't be able to handle one. Sounds like a nice little mini-mod that I would like to try. It's not going to be a change made to the vanilla game, obviously.

    Post edited by Lemernis on
    SCARY_WIZARDBelgarathMTHJuliusBorisovJarrakul
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 3,675
    The user and all related content has been deleted.

    JuliusBorisov
  • LemernisLemernis Member, Moderator Posts: 4,264
    A point worth noting, I think: multi-class and dual-class F/M already allows this, basically. I.e., an arcane caster who can use a crossbow. Both can be nearly as powerful as a pure class mage at spellcasting.

  • ambrennanambrennan Member Posts: 173
    I think that this is mostly due to BG simplistic item restrictions - IMHO there should be at least three different kinds:
    1) hard physical restrictions - a str 3 Mage cannot lift a two-handed sword, never mind using it effectively in combat
    2) limitations of skill - anyone smart enough to become a Mage could potentially have learned to use magic wands but will not be able to use them if they chose a different career (note: this is the only restriction use any item should bypass)
    3) restriction by choice - the Kensai's martial superiority comes from fighting without armour, I.e. a Kensai would not choose to wear armour (or lose his kit benefits with a penalty for not having training fighting in armour)

    Mages not using crossbows would in my opinion fall into the third category - they are easy to fire, true, but need maintenance and such which could be time better spent studying magic.

    JuliusBorisov
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 1,933
    Mathmick said:

    Why have weapon restrictions at all if you're going to give the non-combat classes access to some specific quality items anyway?

    Mages get access to Daggers/Q-Staves because they are the lowest tier melee weapons in the game, and they aren't a melee class.
    They get access to Slings/Darts because they are the lowest tier ranged weapons in the game, and they aren't a combat class.

    If you give Mages access to good weapons, you might as well give Fighters access to Wizard spells.

    I think what makes the warrior really has nothing to do with the weapons they can use. Armor maybe matters a little more; but the important, defining traits of a warrior are hit points, rapid Thac0 progression, and most of all weapon specialization.
    I have no qualms about a rational re-examination of weapons and who can use what. And crossbow is an excellent place to start, I can think of no more appropriate weapon for a mage, especially a starting mage.

    francoBelgarathMTHJuliusBorisovJarrakul
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 3,675
    edited May 2013
    The user and all related content has been deleted.

    Post edited by [Deleted User] on
    EudaemoniumKidCarnivalJuliusBorisov
  • JohnSmith921030JohnSmith921030 Member Posts: 10
    edited May 2013
    I'm an adult and I barely can throw a stone not even twenty meters away from me. I can't imagine how horribly I would fare if I were to use a sling (I would probably kill myself). When you use a sling, you need to be dexterous and the more strength you have, the better. With bow, when it comes to dexterity, you need to have a good stance and be able to coordinate two things - bow and arrow, as well as a position of your target. When it comes to strength, it's more about how hard it is to bend the bow, but the minimum required strength is higher than when it comes to a sling. I think that these two weapons were done well in d&d 2e.

    But, like many people here, I don't understand why wouldn't my wizard (who is modeled after me - average strength, a bit higher than average CON and lower than average DEX) be able to use a crossbow. Basically, you have only one 'unit' to handle - the crossbow itself - and you turn it around searching for a target. When you find it, you release the bolt - no strength required.

    It would be better even from the gameplay perspective, if sling was used more by people, who have the strength to actually use it well, which is not your typical mage. And if (I presume) no proficiency points in a crossbow are basically equal to you using it for the first time (not after a short training, you really can't fail to shoot the bolt), than it would make sense to allow proficiency - after all what use would the other four points be to a warrior, if a wizard with a proficiency point would be as good with a crossbow as grandmaster fighter. Proficient means you can handle the weapon better than when you hold it the first time, not that you are an expert on using it (even if using it only means 'aim it well').

    So, in short, I would allow wizards to use crossbows, but take them the ability to use a sling and darts (and all other weapons that fall under that designation).




    That said, it would be interesting, if some new d&d edition made use of weapons dependant only on abilities and not on class - the class would define how many points you can get (whether only proficiency or more). Abilities would also define how well you use the weapon, but if you wouldn't have the minimal required level of ability, than you wouldn't be able to use that weapon at all (the minimal requirements would be more stern than they are now). Taking all of this into account, your typical wizard, who invests his points to INT would have a hard time using a greatsword, but could still use daggers, if he has a few points in DEX, than also quarterstaffs, etc...

    Or maybe I fail in game rules, if so, than disregard the last paragraph.

    BelgarathMTHJuliusBorisov
  • francofranco Member Posts: 507
    It seems that the mage was given the ability to use a sling, although it is difficult for most people to do so without significant practice, in order to give him a missile weapon. Darts have the drawback of him having to get in closer to the target. But I think many of us agree that the crossbow should be much easier to handle than the sling, in fact it was invented so that common soldiers might compete against well trained archers. A mod giving the mage the ability to use the crossbow would be welcome as well as interesting. I still can't imagine him using the sling with any accuracy.

    BelgarathMTHJuliusBorisov
  • MathmickMathmick Member Posts: 326
    edited May 2013
    atcDave said:

    Mathmick said:

    Why have weapon restrictions at all if you're going to give the non-combat classes access to some specific quality items anyway?

    Mages get access to Daggers/Q-Staves because they are the lowest tier melee weapons in the game, and they aren't a melee class.
    They get access to Slings/Darts because they are the lowest tier ranged weapons in the game, and they aren't a combat class.

    If you give Mages access to good weapons, you might as well give Fighters access to Wizard spells.

    I think what makes the warrior really has nothing to do with the weapons they can use. Armor maybe matters a little more; but the important, defining traits of a warrior are hit points, rapid Thac0 progression, and most of all weapon specialization.
    I have no qualms about a rational re-examination of weapons and who can use what. And crossbow is an excellent place to start, I can think of no more appropriate weapon for a mage, especially a starting mage.
    A large amount of a Warrior's power scales off of the items s/he has. Having access to weapons that inflict more damage (such as X-bows, 2H Swords, Bastard Swords, etc.) is important to them. Yes, being tanky and having an easier time hitting helps, but without a weapon of decent quality a warrior's potential is mostly negated.

    On the other hand, Mages don't really need more diverse or more powerful weapon selection (or itemisation in general) because their effectiveness doesn't scale with their items. Every single Mage spell scales either with the Mage's level, against enemy Saves, or not at all. There's no need for a Mage to have a wide variety of items available to them because they don't need whatever advantage it gives them.

    Fighters get item variety because they function based on their items. Mages lose item variety because they function based on their special abilities (spells).

    EDIT: I'd like to note that I personally don't think being more "realistic" is a reason to add something to a game.

  • ZanathKariashiZanathKariashi Member Posts: 2,867
    edited May 2013
    Also keep in mind....if you use the proficiency rule, it's possible to learn to use ANY weapon (unless you have an Ethos restriction like clerics and druids do), it just costs twice as many pips if it lies outside weapons typical to your class (yet another thing BG didn't add).

    And because of the non-proficiency penalties, unless your class/kit specifically forbids a certain type of weaponry, any weapon should be useable as almost any class. In PnP a mage of sufficient strength COULD technically slip on a suit of full plate...but just like weapons, he'd suffer a massive +6 penalty on his AC for non-proficiency, in addition to preventing spell-casting...still if he was out of spells or didn't have any useful to the situation (and had no better options) he'd end up with a net gain of 3 more ac + the bonuses vs damage types which might be worth it under specific circumstances.

    And it's not like BG hasn't already fudged some of the equipment rules from what core says....Fighter/Druids are supposed to obey ALL the equipment rules for the druid class since their restrictions are part of their ethos vows, not just the weapon restrictions (They're not prevented from equipping the items in PnP, but using illegal items prevents them from using any of their druid abilities until 24 hours after they remove the offending items due to Ethos violation).

  • NecomancerNecomancer Member Posts: 622
    edited May 2013
    There is no logical reason wizards should not be able to use crossbows...or bows...or even swords.

    But game mechanics and balance come before logic. Sometimes the answer isn't some logical or story based reason. Sometimes its "Because it makes for good gameplay."

    Post edited by Necomancer on
    francoLemernisMathmick
  • OneAngryMushroomOneAngryMushroom Member Posts: 564
    All this talk about ease of use and firing speed and complexity is just jargon. You guys are forgetting three important things.
    1. Even with all the pulleys, cranks, and winches and whatnot, it is damned hard to pull back the string. A wimpy mage could maybe load 2 or 3 bolts before becoming exhausted if he could load them at all.
    2. Mages would get their long flowing robes that they love so much caught in the gears and mechanisms of the crossbow. Lets see a mage cast a spell with a 12 pound chunk of wood and metal stuck to his sleeve.
    3. Name one mage that would choose a "stupid fighters" weapon over their slings that take hours of practice and experience that they sunk into the thing.

    Lets leave the crossbows to the fighters that don't have to worry about strength and excessive amounts of flamboyant clothing, and typical mage arrogance.

    Eudaemoniumelementlolien
  • SCARY_WIZARDSCARY_WIZARD Member Posts: 1,425
    atcDave said:

    Actually crossbow is completely not a fighters weapon. Its a piece of fine engineering, used so non-warriors can have a chance against a well armored foe. In fact, I think a mage would be more interested in a crossbow than a peasant weapon like a sling.
    And a mage is as strong and fit as his scores indicate; its an error to make such generalizations. And I think mage robes are no more cumbersome than cloaks and robes worn by other nobles in a medieval setting.
    Honestly, the only reason to follow the rule, is because its a rule. I think all logic suggests its a good weapon for a mage. I could imagine clerics and paladins objecting, but not a mage.

    Even then, there were only optional rules about Paladins objecting because "distance is for wussies!".

    [Deleted User]OneAngryMushroom
  • CaptRoryCaptRory Member Posts: 1,658
    @SCARY_WIZARD I'd like to roll up a Paladin that uses a cannon. A Holy Mithril Cannon of Smiting. Maybe with a bayonet lug on it so he can charge into battle with it after firing.

    *Evil Wizard summons a giant demon*
    *Paladin shoots demon in the face with cannon*
    *Party goes out for ice cream*

    SCARY_WIZARD[Deleted User]Eudaemonium
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