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Are missile weapons fun? Can they be?


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Couldn't think of a better title.  Anyhoo, there's been a lot of talk about how archery and throwing weapons aren't useful due to numbers, but even without that, would people want to use them?

 

Now, this could just be me, but archery just doesn't grab me.  Ok, you can differentiate your fighters by making one an archer.  But, at least the way I create parties, I tend to have front line fighters, who need use bashing/edged or pole weapons, and second line magic users.  Giving someone archery takes away useful skill points (and adds the weight of a bow and arrows, I guess) from what they'd use most.  Though, giving a mage a few points of throwing weapons because mana is limited might make sense, and some dungeons have narrow tunnels where you are fighting in single file and fighters can't in close, and there's always enemies on the other side of chasms or fences or something.  But never really justifies the cost for me.

 

Also, I'm not seeing an appeal.  Mechanically, it's just not as fun to use bows as it is hitting people or using magic.  I don't know why, and it could just be me.

 

Do other people find missile weapons just less interesting/fun, or is it just me?

 

And, are there ways to make missile weapons more interesting?  I think you could do something with level design and weird magic ammo types to encourage their use.

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I think one of the biggest improvements one could make to one's own scenario to make missiles better, is to make them weightless, or maybe just lighter in the case of javelins - and make the javelins more powerful at the same time. Missiles are just too heavy to be useful, unless you get a sling or a missile with the Returning ability.

 

I still hope to make an "epic" scenario at some point. It's always been a dream of mine, and I hope I haven't completely missed the boat forever on actually getting players. A scenario that brings a party from beginner level to very high level would be ideal for overall rebalancing of items.

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Missile weapons would be fun if they hit more often and did useful damage more often. Maybe if dexterity or archery skill increased missile damage rather than just hit chance? IMO it shouldn't be as cost effective as strength is for melee (the long range is a big advantage already). But as things are, an archer with 20 dexterity, 20 archery, a magic crossbow and magic bolts, and maxed out bless level, is practically useless compared to a fighter with 8 strength, some iron weapons, and maxed out bless. The balance is just really, really bad.

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Posted (edited)

Missile skills could be better as a secondary skill for a warrior than a specialty on its own; a warrior would have high dexterity anyway. I could also see it being given to a special "utility" PC,  if you want to play that way. It might not be an ideal party combat-wise, but it might be workable. It's also notable that as a game with a specialty in customizability and role-playing your PCs the way you enjoy, most scenarios can accomodate non-combat-ideal parties if it just makes you happy to have an archer or flinger. And although joining the Anama in BoE isn't a thing, a non-magic party could make use of missile weapons.

 

EDIT: Now I'm considering clever ways to make missile weapons more useful and appealing. Thanks for getting me thinking!

Edited by The Almighty Doer of Stuff
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I think that missile weapons add fair amount of challenge and spice(which some would like and some wouldn't). I actually like the diversity of adding an "Archer" to my party, plus the fact that the hit precentage is quite random.

 

But the bigger question is.. Will there be a stable version of any "Open" version of BoE anytime in the near future before wanting to add all the improvments?

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Missile weapons are helpful for those area where you can't close to melee for your fighters. They will never do the damage of melee weapons, but there are always some situations where they work and you can't rely on mages to do all the work. :)

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, DarkenVolk said:

But the bigger question is.. Will there be a stable version of any "Open" version of BoE anytime in the near future before wanting to add all the improvments?

 

I think missiles could be made dramatically more interesting even with legacy BoE. It'd take some dramatic rebalancing of statistics, as well as balancing of distribution within the scenarios.

 

Examples:

Make most missiles weightless.

Make missiles and missile launchers with Item Abilities and/or non-Exile-standard stats common. Use them creatively.

Provide special node-based Archery, Thrown Missiles, and Dexterity training outside regular "training" dialogue nodes.

Make missile launchers generally pricy, but missiles cheap.

Include "target button" mobs that do things if shot with a missile. They're out of reach of melee, immune to poison, magic, fire, and cold, and in antimagic clouds to prevent use of Wound.

Edited by The Almighty Doer of Stuff
Balance examples
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I think the "target button" idea could be implemented with just special encounters in OpenBoE, actually. I added a way to trigger special encounters by casting a spell on a location, and while I'm not sure if that currently works for missiles, it probably wouldn't be hard to make it work. Of course, that all depends on me finding the time…

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You know, it's been quite some time since playing Blades, but I don't think I ever noticed that missile weapons were bad! Instead, having the ability to do stand-off damage was always something I felt was needed, and so my parties always had chaps (and chapettes) who could shoot. I suppose I never played enough to notice that the bows and crossbows were so miserable in terms of performance. I guess I learned something here...

 

...I also want to chime in that I don't have a problem with things having a weight to them. If balance was an issue in general, I'd say the problem was that everything is too heavy to begin with, and next that you can probably carry more weight than you should. Big Renaissance swords don't weigh 20 lbs in real life - 10 lbs would have been heavy for these, and 6 to 8 lbs is more likely in general. Everything in Avernum and Exile is like that - not sure Jeff changed any of those details with the re-remake series. At the same time, packing 30 arrows or bolts would be a lot of ammo to haul around in real life, so if bows or crossbows don't work very well in the game, then the weight of everything should be tweaked such that the weight of all those missiles would be worth it.

 

Interesting you note javelins and throwing spears. I started another thread not too long ago about pen-and-paper game systems. One of the things I considered for my current project was having certain tags for certain weapons. For instance, one thing a javelin might very well do in real life is render a shield ineffective - consider what Roman pilum were used for. So, if you get an effective hit, it would be really cool if a javelin would reduce the armor of a target until is uses a turn to take care of the problem. Think of this as being webbed - you're in trouble until you use a turn to clean the webs. Likewise, you're out of a shield until you take care of that little spear stuck in it. Or, you might just have some sort of flag in place for when an "effective" javelin hit sticks, reducing the effectiveness of the target's armor until they do something about it.

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Weight is listed in "stone" in Exile, not pounds. Considering that, a single arrow weighs 14 pounds. On the other hand, you can carry up to 250 stone, or 3500 pounds. I don't think the weights are supposed to be literal. But the reason I said it'd be better to make most missiles weightless is because a stack of 100 arrows weighing 100 stone can make using bows too loot-carrying-prohibitive to make missile weapons worth the investment.

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I have another question - or perhaps just something else to throw in here for the sake of conversation:

 

If we're musing on what one could make missile weapons into, could range be made into a factor? Again consider javelins - no, they're not quite like a pilum, but anything that big that gets stuck in you will do a lot more than just hurt - they have rather limited range, because they tend to be really heavy. How far you can effectively throw those things would logically be a function of a character's strength, and how accurate they would be should be a function of dexterity and thrown weapon skill, etc. If you're throwing outside of the effective range, the efficacy should drop. And, if you have a minimum range - like being charged while aiming a bow, or something like that (also note that arrows tend to snake a lot at close range), you could have an accuracy penalty, or something like that.

 

...Not sure how you could do things like this, unless you write a supplement ruleset that would be checked on by the author when writing the scenario.

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Altering missile range is impossible in legacy BoE but if Celtic Minstrel hasn't implemented it in OpenBoE, I bet he will.

 

Also, some bows are made for close quarters. Small recurve bows were used by some peoples, such as the Mongols, to quickly send an arrow straight through a foe and out the other side. The Mongols in particular would do so on horseback.

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