Disclaimer: Pseudo-realism post commencing!
I’m reading up on medieval era arms and armor, and I stumbled upon something quite funny. Historically, archers were trained from an extremely young age as bows require an almost extreme amount of practice to use efficiently.
Crossbows on the other hand did not; in one or two weeks of intense training, a (wo)man could become a brutally efficient murder machine.
As far as I could tell, the bow and arrow was the superior weapon simply due to range and loading speed, but the crossbow was way easier to master, perhaps because of the “point and click” nature.
DW makes a distinction between crossbows and bows, but it is not based on how hard they are to use. They make the crossbow “hurt more”, but makes it slower to load.
I am not sure that a crossbow is exactly slow to load, rather I am under the impression that a bow is just extremely fast to load. A common crossbow also won’t strike much harder. Unless we are taking about an arbalest, which is a crossbow that is windlass-pulled to support a very high amount of force. It was slow to load and it pierced plate armor as if it was butter.
DW isn’t really a game that needs a sense of historical accuracy, but I just thought it was really interesting. Actual house-rules to support this could still be interesting though, and this is what I have come up with so far:
You take -1 for shooting a bow at long range. Fighters and Rangers should have the “Marksman” move that made them ignore this penalty (much like the Paladin and Fighters “Armored” move).
Crossbows should not have reload, and they should lose the +1 damage tag.
Bows could historically be loaded much much faster than crossbows, even if crossbows didn’t take a lot of time to use, and in that regard, I think it is feasible to assume that the “Marksman” move should also include the ability to use a bow as a Reach weapon in close combat with the precise tag.
Arbalests should have the reload tag and the piercing 3 tag (plate has 3 armor).
Note on arbalests; according to wikipedia, a skilled arblaster (man using an arbalest) could fire an incredible two arrows per minute. In other words; it is loaded before combat, and you really need a big fucking pause in the action to reliably reload it.
Just a few thoughts, and I won’t apologize for my language 😉