Addendum on Ranged Weapons

Overcomplicating Labyrinth Lord weapons for fun
2013-08-18 20:02
The previous two installments left out ranged weapons on purpose, because the rules are rather different. Looking at the weapons table in Labyrinth Lord, similar problems as with melee weapons are apparent: if playing with simple damage rules, there is little point to the heavy weapons. If playing with complex ones, there is little point to the light ones. What can we do to make this more interesting?

Beyond thrown weapons, there needs to be a clear niche for heavy/light crossbows and long/short bows. Based on some quick research, it appears that crossbows have far more draw strength, and hence damage potential, than bows, and are easier to master. The main advantage of bows is their comparatively huge rate of fire in the right hands - an expert longbowman could get off a shot every five to ten seconds, whereas a crossbow takes at least half a minute to reload. In medieval times, crossbows were often considered to be "unsporting" weapons used by unruly commoners, to the degree that the church attempted to ban them. Longbows, when they emerged, had nearly equal power and much greater rate of fire, but required far more training.

To represent these differences - crossbows are better unless you are really good at bows - I suggest introducing the following rule: Much as Fighters currently gain an extra attack at the 15th, 20th, and 25th level, Fighters and Elves now gain an extra shot per round when wielding a shortbow or longbow at the 4th, 10th and 18th level.

Also, given the skill and strength required to wield a longbow, only Fighters and Elves may use this weapon in the first place. Halflings can't use heavy crossbows out of size considerations, and Clerics can't use any sharp projectiles, restricting them to bullets, rocks, oil - and holy water, of course.

Based on these thoughts, here's a suggested table with tweaked weights and ranges. (Turns out that bows' effective ranges are also much greater than LL suggests, so I've gently raised them - not really far enough for fear of unbalancing the game.) Comments and suggestions are as always very welcome.

 +1 0-1 
Hv Crossbow1d81040 50 100300 DEF MT4
Lt Crossbow1d6418 20 40150 DEFHMT3
Longbow1d6340 100 200400  EF   4
Shortbow1d4210 60 90180 DEFHMT2
Axe, thrown1d62 2  5 15 30 DEFHMT1
Dagger, thrown1d41 3 15 25 40 DEFHMT1
Dart1d41 1 20 30 50 DEFHMT1
Javelin1d62 1 20 40 80 DEFHMT3
Spear, thrown1d84 5 20 40 120 DEF MT2
Sling1d41 1 20 40 80CDEFHMT1
Rock (thrown)1d21 0 10 20 40CDEFHMT1
Oil*10.1 10 20 40CDEFHMT2
Holy Water*125 10 20 40CDEFHMT3