Bow (weapon)

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The bow, also the long bow or short bow, is a missile weapon used in combat, consisting of a wooden semi-rigid flexible arc, with a high-tensile bowstring joining the ends of the bow's "limbs." It fires wooden arrows tipped with metal and stabilized by feathering called fletching. The maker of a bow is called a "bowyer"; the maker of arrows is a "fletcher." The crossbow is discussed on a separate article.


Bows used in Alexis' game world are composite in construction; they are moderately recurved, meaning that the limbs curve away from the archer when unstrung. They are more advanced than bows used in the 15th century. The "long bow" is between 5 and 6 ft. long; the short bow, by comparison, is between 3 ft. 6 in. and 4 ft. 9 in. long. The combatant must be as tall as the bow is long, so that use of the bow is rare among gnomes and halflings. Characters skilled as a bowyer can make either.

The weight of a long bow is judged to be 10 lbs.; a short bow, 6 lbs. There are seven arrows to the pound.


For game purposes, long and short bows both fire the same arrows. Fired arrows may be recovered if the intended target is missed and a saving throw for thin wood against "crushing blow" is successful (13). It may be deduced in the outdoors or in some subterranean settings that some "broken" arrows have landed somewhere they cannot be found.


The bowstring is made predominantly of animal sinew, though linen, hemp, silk and rawhide are twisted into the string for durability. After several minutes submerged in water, sinew is of little use. It's good to have a number of bowstrings on hand, as they can easily break.


If a roll to hit produces a fumble, the first break roll is applied to the bowstring — strings will break on a roll of 1 in 4. If the string breaks, the character must roll a d12; on a 1, the bow itself breaks as well.


Missile Range in Combat Hexes
Bow Point
Short Medium Long
Long bow 2-3 4-22 23-44 45-66
Short bow 2-3 3-16 17-32 33-48

Damage from the long bow is 1-8; from the short bow, 1-6. The weapon's range is excellent, as shown on the table. Hitting with a bow can be improved by a high dexterity.

To load a bow and aim requires 4 action points (AP). This prepares a long or short bow for firing afterwards. The length of time includes selecting an arrow while consciously observing the battlefield and judging the position and movement of the intended target. Characters with multiple attacks per round may load and aim a bow at a cost of 2 AP. Loading a bow can be done while sighting. It requires 2 AP to fire a bow. An aimed bow cannot be fired more than one time per round.

Loading without aiming requires 2 AP. This describes preparing the bow without paying attention to the combatant's surroundings, so as to concentrate on the action itself. A character with 4 total AP can load a bow and fire it in a single round, but doing the action this way incurs a -4 penalty to hit. Characters with multiple attacks can load without aiming at a cost of 1 AP. An unaimed bow can be fired up to twice a round.


Characters possessing horse archer or camel archer skill may load and fire a short bow while riding a moving horse. A long bow cannot be used for this purpose.

Other Actions

Drawing a bow and getting it ready for combat, which includes loosing the string holding arrows together in a quiver, requires 3 AP.

Slinging a bow over the shoulder, if the weapon is strung, requires 2 AP. Sheathing an unstrung bow into a back scabbard requires 3 AP; the scabbard must be specially designed for the bow being used.

Stringing a bow requires 3 AP, assuming both string and bow are already in hand. Characters who have 5 AP can string a bow and load it without aiming in one round.

Additional Footnotes

The long bow is a hereditary weapon for elves and other characters raised in England & Wales. The short bow is hereditary among characters in Arabia; it's favoured among gamekeepers. This grants a +1 bonus to hit for these peoples.

The sage study of Puissance enables authority-status characters improved speed in using a bow, shaving 1 AP from both loading and aiming & loading without aiming.

Characters with the Assassin's sage ability target assassination area able to us a bow to commit assassinations.

Brownies use a bow of unusual construction. Though only 18 in. long, it's made of high quality composite materials combined with an unnatural construction, allowing creatures of such small size to have a useable bow. The bow causes 1-4 damage with it's arrows; brownies receive a +3 bonus when aiming with the bow. It's much too small for any character race to employ.

The 2nd level illusionist spell, phantasmal bow, creates an illusionary bow free from the rules described on this page.

See also,
The Adventure
Weapons List
Weapon Proficiencies