Anyone had a player use a crossbow in their game?

Anyone had a player use a crossbow in their game?

Anyone had a player use a crossbow in their game? I’m curious how the reload tag interacted with ammo and the fiction.

Like, mechanically, the only time you expend ammo is when you roll 7-9 on Volley and choose “you have to take several shots, reducing your ammo by 1.”  But that seems at odds with the reload tag: “After you attack with it, it takes more than a moment to reset for another attack.”

I’m tempted to say that you can’t pick that option on a 7-9 result, but then you never deplete your ammo with a crossbow.  Maybe that’s not a big deal; finding time to load your crossbow seems like a much more limiting factor than running out of quarrels.

Curious what others’ experiences have been.   

15 thoughts on “Anyone had a player use a crossbow in their game?”

  1. I may be wrong, I’m very new to Dungeon World, but I think the reload tag is specifically there just to inform the fiction and prompt for GM moves, perhaps to to put the marksman using the crossbow in a spot or to have them make an ugly choice while reloading. It doesn’t interact with the abstract nature of tracking ammo.

    The wording “you have to take several shots” is only incongruous if you’re using traditional d20 game assumptions about bow/crossbow speed. Fictionally it makes perfect sense that a crossbowman would have to take several shots to land a blow. The “reloading” only matters when it cinematically/fictionally does.

  2. I feel the reload tag is about time, not the quantity of ammo available. A player couldn’t fire twice in rapid succession with a crossbow. They’d have to spend some time reloading the weapon before they take that second shot. Untill they do that, they wouldn’t trigger the Volley move (unless they used a different weapon).

  3. repeater, or double crossbow could have the rapid succession capability, maybe when someone has to reload it makes it more likely to be blindsided by something big and nasty, initiating the defy danger rolls

  4. A Messy weapon isn’t constantly exploding enemies’ entrails, a Precise weapon isn’t constantly stabbing out vitals, a Reload weapon isn’t constantly taking forever to nock. We don’t follow every moment to moment happening of combat – we zoom in here and there, scoping out the exciting and relevant parts where drama is unfolding. Sometimes, that moment is when you’re in the middle of loading a crossbow.

    The tag just means you’re allowed to catch the archer with their pants down in a fight, as far as I’m concerned.

  5. That’s a valid point Alfred Rudzki. We don’t always follow every moment to moment happening in combat. But when we do, when we’re zoomed in to that chunk of time, I’m going to expect to see the character with the crossbow reload it if they want to take that second shot.

  6. Yeah, remember: there is no taking turns or having rounds of actions in DW. Whatever characters do fictionally, you follow that. So reloading in battle could mean anything from “these other characters do things in the meantime” to “as you start winding up your winch, the giant skeleton charges toward you; what do you do?”

  7. For me it serves to give the DM a target for moves.  I would expect them to volley like anyone else.  But when I want to “activate their stuffs downside” expect the thing coming after you to get in your face before you had a chance to reload.

  8. First:  Does anyone have any specific, actual play experiences with a PC using a crossbow? If so, I’d love to hear them.  Specifically:

     – Did the player ever choose to take a bunch of shots on a 7-9? 
     – If so, how did the reload tag play into that (if at all)? 

     – Did ammo ever feel like a meaningful resource for the xbow?

    More generally… I know the game is not measured in rounds, and that we all have certain assumptions about the rate of fire of bows vs. crossbows and so on.  But the crossbow has the reload tag and a bow doesn’t.  That tells me the crossbow takes longer to load and shoot than a bow does, enough so that it’s worthy of a tag.

    I also understand that we can zoom out and that the one Volley move could play out over a minute or so, etc. etc. But, in my experience, DW combat tends to pretty quickly zoom down to moment-by-moment actions and reactions.  The lack of “gang warfare” moves (as in AW) and the way H&S, Volley, and damage all work tends to push it that way.

    And in moment-to-moment situations, I’m picturing exchanges like this:

    GM: Boris, Sven… the goblins look up from the corpse their looting, make eye contact from across the clearing.  “CHARGE!” What do you do?

    Boris:  Well, I had my trusty crossbow out.  I plunk the leader in the chest.  Volley? 

    GM: Yup, roll Dex.

    Boris: An 8.  Hmm.  I guess I’ll take a few shots and lose ammo. 

    GM:  Isn’t a crossbow a reload weapon?  How do you get off a bunch of shots?  They were like 20 feet away and charging.

    Boris: Oh…

    Now, here it could go a few different ways. My players, I think they’d just choose a different 7-9 option (and thus I wonder whether ammo would ever be an issue for the crossbow).  But I can imagine it going a bunch of different ways, like…

    GM: You’re going to need to Defy Danger with Dex to get off multiple shots…

    But now the player is having to make another move to get the effects of a move he already rolled.  Not terrible, and the player could back out and pick a different Volley option, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    Sven: I stand in front of Boris and hold off the charging goblins!  Defend?

    GM: Sure. If you succeed, that’ll buy Boris the time to get his shots off.

    Again, I’m not sure I like Sven’s move making the Boris’s 7-9 choice possible.  But I can live with it.

    GM: Yeah, OK, you can do that but the goblins are gonna be all up on you by the time you get off your shots. Cool?

    Boris: Yeah, totally.  Roll damage?  I got a 6.

    GM: Cool, that’ll drop him. But the one right behind him bowls you over and the next one jumps on your legs. Sven, you see Boris go down and a couple goblins with their knives up like this about to do the stabby stabby. What do you do?

    Sven: Wait, I just had to wait there while Boris took his shots and the goblins closed the distance?  I totally would’ve charged at them myself!

    GM: Uhh…

    Sadness and confusion ensues.

    All of these scenarios feel like grinding gears to me. Which is why I’m looking for actual play experiences.  Does this actually come up?  How was it resolved at your table?  That sort of thing.

  9. I have the same problem with the flintlock pistols in my clockpunk campaigns. Reload and the ammo system don’t work well together fictionally. 

    But I just accept it and go on. It is not a deal breaker. 

  10. Actual play example:

    DM: “The orcs are charging across the narrow bridge, they’ll be on you in a moment! What are you guys doing?”

    Fighter: “I shoot the lead orc with my crossbow then ready myself for melee.” Rolls a 7. “Damn, looks like that was my last bolt!”

    I wouldn’t get hung up on “you have to take several shots”, the penalty/consequence is marking off 1 ammo. The guy with the crossbow only has “x” amount of ammo so whether he took “several shots”, his “last shot”, or “dropped a few bolts” it all works out if you let the fiction work it out.

    As far as the reload quality in other circumstances other commenters have already given some great ways to use it.

  11. Yeah, I let a dwarf ranger have a crossbow instead of her regular starting equipment, then realised the stats for the two things were actually different – d’oh.

    We fudged it, and broadly I used the reload mechanic whenever dramatically appropriate after that. (I’d have used it if she got a 6- on her volley too, but her DEX was pretty high and that wasn’t likely to happen.)

  12. I dont think that the ammo and the reload can’t work together. Cause you assume that a bow is being reloaded between shots. Ammo is an abstraction so you dont have to keep count of each single version. Reload just tells you that it takes longer to make shots.

    you could chose expend an ammo for a crossbow as the move allows and then you would have to spend some time fictionally reloading it.

  13. Am I the only one who views that interaction as the crossbow archer dropping half a dozen extra bolts into the groove to make sure they hit their target?

    …Okay. What everyone else said, then.

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