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Ranged vs Melee BROKEN, bow vs powder BROKEN

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#21 dvang



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Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:13 PM


Ok, I'm going to start off this reply by being somewhat unconstructive.
I vehemently disagree with all of your assumptions.

* Ranged is NOT more powerful than Melee. It is not broken
* bows vs powder is NOT broken either.

Let's start with Ranged vs Melee …

- In general, melee attack actions offer more + damage options.
- Most ranged actions suffer +1 difficulty die when used while engaged.
- A person equipped with a ranged weapon cannot BLOCK nor PARRY. Two very important defensive abilities.
- WS not only helps a character attack, but WS also helps them PARRY.  BS only helps when attacking.
- Melee weapons do not require nor run out of ammunition

Those are just things off the top of my head. If you have NPCs getting killed by bow-wielding PCs before the NPCs can get into melee with the archer, then you are doing something wrong. There are plenty of ways to deal with this. Add more enemies. Have the NPCs use their A/C/E dice to make the ranged attack miss. Make the NPCs suffer wounds (or fatigue/stress) to simply move into engaged range.  Have the NPCs hide behind cover so that the PC archers cannot shoot them.  Have it rain/fog/snow.etc, and apply extra misfortune (or difficulty) dice for ranged attacks due to poor visibility. At night, or underground, PCs can only see (and therefore shoot) as far as the light source allows them. This might be only Close range.  Lots of detriments, and ways to handle, to ranged attacks, without applying a bunch of unneccessary house rules.

Now, Bow vs Powder …

Yes, I will state up front that if you are just looking at combat stats of bows vs powder weapons, bows essentially are slightly better.
Simply put, though, mechanically (and realistically) a bow *is* superior to a black powder weapon.  About the only thing 'better' about black powder weapons is the ability to penetrate armor. Remember, these are (relatively) primitive black powder weapons. They aren't modern guns.  There isn't Rifling or cartridges, etc. Bullets aren't exploding, tipped, or spinning and causing more damage. They are simply being pushed out of a warped and crummy barrel. In the real world, guns became more commonplace simply because it was easier to train someone to shoot a gun accurately than it was to train them to shoot a bow accurately, and also that eventually making lead shot was cheaper and faster than making arrows.

Lastly, and I like to point this out since many people simply don't realize or understand it.  Black Powder weapons in WFRP are symbols of FEAR and POWER.  Generally, only elite Imperial troops or the very wealthy (ie nobles) carry black powder weapons and can afford to actually use one. Shot and powder are not cheap, nor easy to acquire.  Bows can be found in nearly every town and village, and in every farmer's house. Many people know the rudiments of crafting some sort of bow and arrows, and at the very least there is likely one person in every town of village who does.  Black Powder weapons are crafted by specially trained engineers, in very few places.  Most folks have never seen nor heard a black powder weapon being fired.  It is a 'shock and awe' type of weapon.  Merely carrying a pistol in your waistband indicates that you are a person of means and/or power, even without it being used at all.  Some will want to rob you, most will fear you (if they recognize it as a pistol, of course).  You will gain instant attention from nobles, whether you are viewed with suspicion or respect will depend of course, but you will not be regarded with the indifference they show most Brass Tier people.  Essentially, carrying a black powder weapon can bring your effective social tier up temporarily.  Then, we can also include the potential firing of a black powder weapon to be Fear-causing in those who are not acquainted well. It can cause animals to stampede or flee. It can deafen people. The powder can be used for all sorts of creative ideas as well.

To wrap up, you cannot judge the benefits of bows vs powder simply based on DR and CR and the flat stats from a simple straightforward combat situation. Black Powder weapons have a host of less tangible benefits to them. 


Now, to trying to provide assistance for any house rules.  I'd think simply that:

Ranged vs Melee = Require ranged attacks to:

a) Not allow any maneuvers if using a ranged attack action
b) Maneuvers must occur AFTER any ranged attack actions happen.  

Bows vs Black powder:

a) Simply add +1 CR and +1 pierce to black powder weapons. They will have better piercing and are more easily able to generate criticals than bows.

Neither of those should dramatically alter the game or rules, but should adjust things a decent amount towards the results that you are looking for.

#22 Yepesnopes



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Posted 15 February 2013 - 08:19 PM


While you have some good points, and I agree with you that for example in my games I don't feel ranged is that powerful as other people say. Immobilising shot is a totally broken card that wiill spoil even the most epic fights. It was because cards like these that I had to put a restriction on how many cards of the same type can be on the table. But as for immobilising shot, this was not enough, it is just too powerful.



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#23 DrWorm73



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Posted 10 June 2014 - 07:45 PM

Wow, I kinda hate to necro this thread from over a year ago, but I am genuinely surprised how many posters have a problem with ranged combat.  My Wood Elf Hunter (Hroda), has had quite a problem keeping up with the other players in the damage department as the foes get tougher.  We have two dwarves (one a sword & board tank, and the other a brutal damage *****) and a Witch (now Warlock), and Hroda's piddly 9 damage + pierce is not even in the same class. 


1)  The number of action cards for ballistic weapons (48) compared to melee (187) is so small in comparison,

2)  On average when compared to those taken by my companions they are more difficult succeed at and use (based on fiddly range requirements.

3)  The action cards do not cut through toughness well at all and the damage bonuses are harder to achieve.


Now, I don't really complain about this in my game since the trade off it Hroda gets attacked much less than the dwarves do, though I also can sustain about 1.5 hits from a major foe with my 1 defense (two if I use Footwork that way) and 6 total soak.  I also have access to less active defenses than they do since I can't afford the encumbrance of a melee weapon (don't have WS trained anyway) or a shield.  Against the bigger foes we are starting to see I am lucky to deal 1-2 wounds if I hit most of the time.  I might get in an Archer's Paradox at the beginning of combat, but it has a heft recharge.  ***** in the Armor is great, but since it is Obs based it is way harder to do and I am not even super min/maxed.  Compare that to Reckless Cleave (which has no added difficulty) on a roll of a net of one success and one boon- In my party that means the great axe swinging Dwarf deal 17 points of damage.


Again, when it became clear to the GM that I was really not contributing very much in the damage department he suggested making some actions that were more potent I said I didn't think that was a good idea since the intended balancing factor seems to be that ranged characters take less punishment on average.  I just find is really surprising that someone thinks that a longbow using character is really all that.


Encumbrance is another balancing factor too because I have found that in order for Hroda to have enough arrows for a longish foray from civilization I need to carry 24 arrows, so a longbow with ammo is 8 encumbrance for her weapon.  The dwarf with a great axe has a weapon that is 6 encumbrance, and compared to him Hroda's 3 strength means she can only carry 15.  She also has to regularly spend money on ammo, while the war axe requires upkeep in only the most extreme situations.


I guess I wonder sometimes if people are taking into account all these out of combat factors or are keeping track of encumbrance and ammo if they really think that a longbow being able to fire every round is broken.

#24 WFRPGraeme



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Posted 11 June 2014 - 08:17 AM

For what it's worth (which may not be very much), here's a bit of historical perspective. Of course, history doesn't have to worry about game balance, but I hope it's useful or at least interesting.


Bow vs. Powder: This is a problem in just about every game I've come across. This is because most games model the disadvantages of black-powder weapons (especially the long reload time) but not the disadvantages of bows. It leaves a lot of people wondering how anyone ever thought early guns were a good idea, and why they gradually replaced bows in military use.


Bows like the English longbow take a LONG time to master, as well as constant practice. They require serious physical conditioning, to the point where archers' skeletons from the Mary Rose and elsewhere actually show evidence of asymmetric muscular development from the action of drawing the bow. I've never seen a game reflect this, though (I guess it could be done by making archery a very expensive skill to acquire and upgrade), perhaps because players would revolt against a game that denied them such a basic fantasy-medieval weapon.


Guns, on the other hand - even early black-powder guns - are pretty much point and shoot. I haven't researched the subject, but it seems to me that crossbows replaced bows and guns replaced crossbows not because they were more effective weapons (at least the early ones weren't), but because they required less training and made the resulting troops cheaper and quicker to raise in large numbers. And speaking of troops brings me to Ranged vs. Melee.


In history, ranged and melee were specializations: almost no one was skilled at both, and the equipment for each was very different. Archers were lightly-armored (if armored at all) because they needed freedom of movement to use their bows, and that meant that if they were caught by armored melee troops, they were doomed - their primary defense was running away, and their lack of heavy armor gave them an advantage there - except against cavalry, of course. Most games don't give players ranged combat penalties for wearing heavy armor, again because that's not how fantasy works.


How to deal with the issues that willmanx raised? It's tough, and no game I've ever come across has got it right.


I like the range misfortune dice a lot. I would apply them to guns as well as bows, since early guns were not all that accurate until rifled barrels were developed (which just about tripled reload times because they demanded a snugger fit between round and barrel). I'd also suggest adding another misfortune die for wearing medium armor and 2 for heavy armor.


How to reflect the need for archers to have much more training than gunners? Well (at a very broad, non-crunchy, theoretical level), I would probably make bows far less effective at base skill levels, and allow players to develop proficiency by buying skill training or specializations that actually make the weapon useful. Guns, on the other hand, would be easier to use from the start and have far fewer of these skills and specializations because they are so crude at this level of technology that there's very little skill to be learned.


I'm also a big fan of misfires when dealing with black-powder weapons. It's far from certain that an early gun will actually do what you want it to do: it can hang fire (going off the round AFTER the trigger is pulled, possibly just when someone is trying to clear the barrel); it can fail to go off at all, requiring the barrel to be cleared (and unloading takes a lot longer than loading because you can't pull a shot out with a ramrod); it can generate too little energy to fire the ball but enough heat to weld it into the barrel (which can take days to fix or ruin the gun forever); and in extreme cases it can simply blow up taking the user's hands and forearms with it. Rick Priestley came up with a really great misfires table for WFRP1 - it would be great if someone had the time to convert it to WFRP3.


I hope this wasn't too boring - just some thoughts I've had on these issues at various times, but never had the opportunity to develop into detailed rules and test.

Edited by WFRPGraeme, 11 June 2014 - 08:56 AM.

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#25 Emirikol


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Posted 11 June 2014 - 01:09 PM



Rick Priestley came up with a really great misfires table for WFRP1 - it would be great if someone had the time to convert it to WFRP3.


On it.



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#26 DurakBlackaxe



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Posted 11 June 2014 - 04:32 PM

He must mean manling guns. Dwarven guns are far superior.

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#27 Carcosa



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Posted 11 June 2014 - 09:06 PM


A side note on encumberence, it sucks :P Once again it comes back to my basic view of the only real failure of WFRP, the scaling is simply too small. The dice, the setting, the theme, the basic rules are incredibly robust and enjoyable to play, but the scaling is so whacked it's not funny. There is simply not enough range of, well, chaos in it. I think that's why the D20 system has become the standard for RPG's these days, the scaling just permits enough flexibility for it to work well without the intrinsic problems of percentile based systems and enough flexibility to not become as ridged as D6/8/10/12 systems. 

#28 Emirikol


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Posted 15 June 2014 - 10:58 AM

Ok, so here's the original text from WFRP1 (i found several versions after referencing the WFRP index at castle goblinstein):


"Advanced Misfires (from WFRP1e Apocrypha Now and Warhammer Companion, etc.)

The firearms misfires table on p29 of the WFRP1e rulebook covers three possible misfire effects; here is an expanded misfire table, covering a few more:

d100 Misfire Results

01-20- Partial Burn. Not all the powder catches; range and effective strength are halved (round up) for this round only.

21-50-Charge fails to ignite; try again next round.

51-70 Charge fails to ignite; reload and try again.

71-80-Slow burn, or ‘hang fire.’ The priming goes off but nothing else seems to happen. However the weapon will fire in the following round, with potentially dangerous consequences. Anyone who is stupid enough to look down the barrel of a gun which has hung fire takes an automatic point blank head hit.

81-90-Flash in the pan. The powder around the touch hole ignites in a bright flash, but the gun does not go off. The gun must be reprimed before it can be fired again; this takes one round. The firer suffers a +10 penalty to his BS on the reprimed shot due to an understandable degree of nervousness about what is to happen next…

91-99-Burn round. The powder catches, but the shot is either insufficiently wadded or a little too small for the barrel. The net result is the heat of the buringin powder welds the shot into the barrel.  The weapon is now useless, and has a 50% chance of exploding if anyone tries to use it again.

00-Weapon explodes. User takes normal hits, weapon destroyed."


..now for some work on how to randomize the misfire...

#29 Emirikol


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Posted 15 June 2014 - 12:10 PM

Ok, here are those rules adapted from 1e:  http://community.fan...d-from-1e-wfrp/

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