Crossbow Fight at the Last Chance Tavern

The town of Last Chance nestles beneath the Keep on The Borderlands, a testament to the siren call of that legendary structure. Last Chance is populated by vagrants, pioneers, outsiders, folks on the run from the law and anyone who didn’t quite fit into regular civilized society. It is a frontier town that just over 1,000 souls call home, each one with a tale to tell and a mark to leave on the world, even if that mark is nothing more than a crude gravestone on Orc Hill.

The dwarf inventor Smithyn Wesson is one such soul. Where his inventions found nothing but derision in his Dwarfhold, his vision of “creating weapons so simple even a commoner could slay a goblin” has found much popularity (and demand) among the citizens of Last Chance. Almost every resident of fighting age owns at least one of his weapons, and wear them proudly on their side where elsewhere you would see a sword or a dagger.

Three-shooter (30gp)

This small three shot repeating hand crossbow is able to shoot three custom-made bolts before reloading. Each bolt does 1d6 damage, and the weapon counts as a Simple Missile Weapon with a range of 30/120. Most users can fire one shot per round and require an action to reload, but anyone with the Rapid Shot ability (from the Archer Specialty) can fire two shots in one round and fire-and-reload as a single action should they wish. As with Rapid Shot, damage from these snapshot attacks is halved.

Three-shooters are somewhat unreliable. If an attack misses by more than 5 the weapon is jammed. It will require an action to unjam and reload before the weapon can be fired again. On a miss of more than 10 or a natural 1 the weapon is damaged. Usually a part of the spring mechanism has come lose and this can be fixed after combat with a DC13 Dex check. Failure means the problem was more severe and will require the services of a shootsmith to repair.

Three-shooter bolts cost 1gp for a pouch of 12.

Shotbow (75gp)

The fearsome Shotbow uses the same ammunition as the Three-shooter but fires 8 bolts at once with great force as a 15′ cone attack that does 2d8 damage to anyone unlucky enough to be in the area (Dex saving throw against attack roll for half damage). This counts as a Martial Missile Weapon that requires two hands to use and a full turn (or two actions, if moving) to reload.

Unlike the smaller and more fragile Three-shooters, Shotbows are quite reliable and do not suffer from the same risk of jamming. However on a roll of a natural 1 there is a risk of the weapon exploding – DC13 Dex check to pull back from the trigger quick enough, or the user takes 2d8 damage as the weapon blows up in his hands!

A number of shootsmiths are working on manufacturing a double- (or even triple-) barreled Shotbow that is able to fire multiple times before reloading. Due to problems with reliability (and a number of self-inflicted deaths), these are not yet available on the market. Not legally, anyway.

Ammo variants

The small bolts are deadly enough, but that doesn’t stop enterprising souls from making even more cunning variants.

Armour Piercing bolts (1gp for 3) These bolts are honed to a sharp point with four long flights along the length of the bolt which are designed to penetrate both chainmail and breastplate alike. These fearsome bolts are +2 to hit against anyone wearing metal armour, and +2 damage on any hit.

Hollow Point bolts (2gp for 3) The tip of these bolts is replaced with a tiny glass vial designed to shatter on impact. They usually contain acid (+1d6 damage), though Holy Water is also a popular choice among Clerics and folks living near the Graveyard. Few zombies can stand against the might of a Shotbow loaded with Holy Hollow Points!

Talk is one particularly feared bandit in the hills uses Hollow Points containing burrowing beetles, but that’s just scary talk designed to frighten children.

Enchanted missiles (15gp per spell level, per bolt) One enterprising young Wizard has discovered a way to enchant bolts to trigger a spell on impact. Pity the outlaw hit with a Bolt of Alarm fired from a Sheriff’s Three-shooter, or the victim of a Bolt of Cause Fear!

Dirty little secret

Smithyn Wesson isn’t entirely telling the truth when he claims that Three-shooters are his invention. He was sold a Drow repeater crossbow by a passing adventurer and managed to reproduce much of its design. That in itself is quite an achievement, but when the scions of Menzoberranzan discover that a small and isolated surface town has taken something of theirs, well…… who knows what will happen?

Till next time!

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5 Responses

  1. If you can find it, take a look at a kick ass French flick called The Brotherhood of the Wolf. It’s great anyway, but there’s a scene that shows just how deadly a crossbow can get. I’ve tried a quick youtube search but couldn’t find it (although I am hindered by having a cat sprawled all over me right now), but tryst me, it’s well worth teh effort. it’s actually the inspiration for a blog post all about crossbows that follows on from this one. http://shortymonster.co.uk/?p=119

  2. vobeskhan says:

    Great article Robin. I think a certain halfling may be acquiring a 3-shot handbow shortly :)

  3. steeplejackuk says:

    Loved this article mate, so want to go shopping now, spend some of my hard won gold ;-)

  4. drow says:

    “Why do you have a bunch of arrows tied to a stick?”
    “Sawed-off shotbow.”
    *thwack*

  5. I love the shotbow idea! (And especially the “Swaed off shotbow).

    I love this blog, and I’ve decided to nominate you for the “Super Sweet Blogging Award.” I’m not nescessarily sure it’s legitimate, but I hope it brings you some new viewers and gets the stuff you post on here to a larger audience. Here are the details (sorry about the poetic format): http://thedailytravesty.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=221&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2

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