Author Topic: How is a composite bow better?  (Read 4986 times)

Offline Kodi

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 12
How is a composite bow better?
« on: December 09, 2011, 12:10:47 PM »
I've long wondered what makes a composite bow better than a normal bow. I suspect a composite bow has less of a range penalty (assuming there's a penalty for aiming at a far vs. near target).

On a related note, it's probably pretty well known that "fine" bows are superior because high strength boosts their damage.

Also, the max range of a longbow seems to be 19 and a shortbow 15 (at least in early Goldbox games).

I don't know about crossbows because they've always seemed so inferior -- unless there's some hidden benefit to using one (less range penalty?). Crossbows get some love in The Realm, which introduces a heavy crossbow that packs a serious punch: 1d12 damage.

Offline nologgie

  • Non-resident Non-expert
  • Dungeon Craft Tester
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3465
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2011, 03:02:54 PM »
The "real world" advantage of composite bows is that the recurve shape makes them shorter, which makes them more manageable. AD&D allows the short races to use long composite bows, but not long bows.

The advantage of crossbows is that an average novice can be trained to be reasonably proficient with one in about a day. Gaining proficiency with a bow takes considerably longer. Due to the short draw length and correspondingly short accelleration period of the projectile, an 80 pound (draw weight) crossbow will have a lower missile velocity (less range and damage) than a 40 pound bow. The rate of fire for proficient wielders of each actually favors bows more than the AD&D 2:1 and 4:1 ratios.

The real world disadvantage of bows is that the archer needs continual practice to remain proficient.
Some days it just doesn't pay to gnaw through the straps.

Offline Kodi

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2011, 03:31:02 PM »
Interesting, thanks.

The advantage of crossbows is that an average novice can be trained to be reasonably proficient with one in about a day. ...The real world disadvantage of bows is that the archer needs continual practice to remain proficient.
I believe Tom Proudfoot's games like Nahlakh and perhaps Natuk actually implement some of this by giving a hidden skill bonus to a crossbow. But I guess in real life, a bow would be any skilled warrior's choice assuming they practiced often enough.

Offline GoldBoxFan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1708
  • "We need more cowbell."
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2011, 08:25:17 PM »
I just looked in the items editor. The longbow and composite longbow are the same except the longbow weighs 100 coins and costs 12 platinum and the composite longbow weighs 50 coins and costs 25 platinum, so it is lighter and more expensive.

The shortbows are different. The shortbow has a weight of 50 and costs of 3 platinum with 2 attacks a round and a range of 16. A composite shortbow has a weight of 80 coins, a cost of 15 platinum, 2 attacks a round and a range of 19. So it actually weighs more, costs more, and can shoot further.

Offline nologgie

  • Non-resident Non-expert
  • Dungeon Craft Tester
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3465
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2011, 03:43:41 AM »
The encumbrance figures for the long and short composite bows are reversed.

The "weights" listed have to be a stab at encumbrance based upon bulk rather than weight. I have never seen a longbow that weighed much more than a pound. My old Welsh-pattern yew longbow with it's linen cover, spare string, and accessory pouch weighs 16.8 ounces. (I checked. The box I mailed it in weighed more than the bow.) The Martin "Stick" longbow weighs only 12 ounces. The 10 pound (4.5 kg) AD&D figure strikes me as absolutely absurd.

In my experience, composite long bows tend to be slightly heavier than longbows, but not by much. I'm basing this primarily on my old Bear Kodiak. There are probably exceptions.
Some days it just doesn't pay to gnaw through the straps.

Offline Kodi

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2011, 04:45:10 AM »
Both posts above are very interesting; thanks.

Does anyone know if there is a range penalty for aiming at distant vs. close targets? It certainly seems that I hit a lot less often when aiming at something far away, but it could be psychological (since I so strongly expect it to be so).

Also, is it possible that composite bows have a hidden bonus not reflected in the item list? For example, maybe FRUA has combat code that looks at the range of the equipped weapon or its position within the item list, and gives a thac0 penalty or bonus based on that? I certainly seem to hit much more often with a composite shortbow than a normal one; but the testing was not rigorous.

On a related note, I see here that an item's eligibility for thief backstab damage bonus is not an explicit property of the item but is instead kept in a separate table. The table's limited size explains why weapons like two-handed swords and magical scimitars don't give a fighter-thief any damage bonus.

Offline GoldBoxFan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1708
  • "We need more cowbell."
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2011, 11:17:15 AM »
The encumbrance figures for the long and short composite bows are reversed.
They may be wrong, but this is how they are set up in FRUA. Check for yourself.

I could find nothing in the goldbox rules about ranged penalties. But when throwing darts from a maximum range of 3 I tend not to ever hit. But when I go to a range of 2 I hit a lot more. Not sure how you would figure short, medium and long range with the 16 or 19 short bow ranges though. A weapon should have three slots for the three ranges, but doesn't. It should, but that doesn't mean it does.  ???

Offline nologgie

  • Non-resident Non-expert
  • Dungeon Craft Tester
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3465
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2011, 06:26:17 PM »
I know range adjustments have been looked for several times, but never found. This doesn't necessarily mean they don't exist.

I've never been quite motivated enough to set up a combat to fire a thousand arrows each at different ranges and track the results.

The encumbrance figures for the long and short composite bows are reversed.
They may be wrong, but this is how they are set up in FRUA. Check for yourself.

True. It's a long-standing minor bug. It's fixed in the revised item databases for the v1.3 patch and FRUA Gold.
Some days it just doesn't pay to gnaw through the straps.

Offline nologgie

  • Non-resident Non-expert
  • Dungeon Craft Tester
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3465
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2011, 09:25:51 PM »
Okay, I got slightly motivated. Range adjustments are definitely applied to missile weapons. Medium range is -2, and long is -5. (I only actually tested darts and the composite long bow, so confirmation of others is still open.)

Medium range for darts starts at 2, which matches the book value of 1.5. This means that darts can only be thrown from medium or long range in FRUA.

Medium range for the composite long bow starts at 8, long range starts at 15.

Combined percentages for attacks at each range (base chance 50%, minimum test quantity 1000 attacks).

Short range -       50.1%  (50% expected)
Medium range -    38.7%  (40% expected)
Long range -        25.2%  (25% expected)

Edit: Corrected CLB medium range from 10 to 8.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 02:47:37 AM by nologgie »
Some days it just doesn't pay to gnaw through the straps.

Offline Kodi

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2011, 04:34:10 AM »
test quantity 1000 attacks
Wow, sweet! Thanks for firing all those arrows. It's a relief to know that my dart-throwers and archers haven't been wasting their time all these years by trying to jockey for a closer position.

Medium range for darts starts at 2, which matches the book value of 1.5. This means that darts can only be thrown from medium or long range in FRUA [and the roll is thus penalized by -2 or -5
Well that explains why even a skilled warrior throwing darts seems to hit a lot less often than I expected. It also removes some of the luster from Darts of Hornet's Nest. (I never did understand why some Goldbox games and even some players seem to make such a big deal out of those -- except perhaps against annoying fire-shielded, mirror-imaged, low-AC mages).

Medium range for the composite long bow starts at 10, long range starts at 15.
Since the composite shortbow has the same range, I imagine it's the same for it. On the other hand, if they're both identical in capability, the only reason to use a composite longbow would be the "bug" that it's lower in weight. But if that bug has been fixed in v1.3, a composite shortbow would actually be superior to a composite longbow.

It might be even more interesting to know the penalties and ranges for a normal shortbow since I seem to remember thieves can use only that type. At the very least, you probably have to be closer to the target to avoid the medium/long range penalty.

Incidentally, does anyone know what the thac0 bonus is for "attack from behind" and "backstab"? My impression is that backstab is a pretty huge bonus, probably 4 or better, but that attack-from-behind is more modest, maybe around 2.

Offline nologgie

  • Non-resident Non-expert
  • Dungeon Craft Tester
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3465
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2011, 03:27:14 AM »
The composite short bow has a shorter range than the long bows. I put the full list in this thread.

For individual designs I'm inclined to increase the ranges of missiles somewhat, particularly the short ranged ones, to help offset the 1:4 distance disparity. (The reason a 20' wide room shows up as 80' wide on a combat map.)

Being able to negate the range penalty for long ranged weapons without increasing the range when used indoors would be an ideal solution. Ceilings usually prevent the "arch" necessary for long range shots, but anything in a 40' (drawn as 160') room would be close range. It's a pity I don't know how to do this. Perhaps it can be done in DC someday.

Backstabs get a +4 to hit. They should also negate shield and dexterity adjustments, but I don't think the program breaks these out.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 03:29:17 AM by nologgie »
Some days it just doesn't pay to gnaw through the straps.

Offline Kodi

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2011, 07:43:13 AM »
The composite short bow has a shorter range than the long bows.
Ah, that explains it.

I put the full list [of missile weapons and their ranges] in this thread
That's a great resource. Thanks!

Backstabs get a +4 to hit.
Good to know. That suggests that attack-from-behind gives a bonus of 2, and perhaps attack-from-almost-behind (rear quadrant) gives a bonus of 1 (can anyone confirm?)

I know the following is off topic, but I'd hate to create a new topic just for it: Are dragons limited in how many times they may use their breath weapons per combat?

Offline GoldBoxFan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1708
  • "We need more cowbell."
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2011, 10:15:31 AM »
Breath weapons can be special abilities or spells. There are something like 5 dragon breaths, but they don't cover all dragons. So the dragons that cast spells to mimic their breath have a maximum number. Other dragons should have an unlimited number. Unless there is a byte in the monster file which keeps track of how many times you use dragon breath which we don't know about.  :-\

Offline Kodi

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2011, 01:09:44 PM »
Unless there is a byte in the monster file which keeps track of how many times you use dragon breath which we don't know about.  :-\
I figured a 3-breath-per-combat limit, rather than being an attribute in the monster file, might be hard-coded into the combat code somewhere.

Sometimes my parties get into knock-down, drag-out fights with dragons. When they're losing the battle, it would be good for morale to know the beast can blast them only 3 times before it has to fight the old-fashioned way.

I might try to find out with the next cooperative dragon we encounter.

Offline GoldBoxFan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1708
  • "We need more cowbell."
Re: How is a composite bow better?
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2011, 03:53:24 PM »
There are special effects for Dragon Acid, Dragon Cold, Dragon Fire, Dragon Lightning and Dragon Poison. There is also the Dragon Fear Effect. Any other dragon effect would be a spell.