Bow vs. Crossbow

Xeviat

Explorer
Hi Everyone. This one should be simple, but knowing forums it could blow up. Who knows?

So, before getting Extra Attack, what is the advantage to using a Bow over a Crossbow? I noticed this while helping a friend stat up a rogue. They were imagining using a shortbow the whole time, but when we got to the equipment they noticed the light crossbow did more damage. The loading drawback simply isn't a drawback until you get extra attack, and since a rogue never gets extra attack, it simply isn't an issue.

I realized that everyone under 5th level should be using a crossbow to be optimal. There's no advantage to using a bow.

This doesn't feel right.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Maybe range? Only thing I can really think of but even then, I'm not sure the long range of a longbow would really come up much to make it worth it.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
A lot of people (me especially) really hate the way they did a lot of the armor and weapons in 5E. You are correct that there's no reason for a rogue to use a shortbow rather than a light crossbow, so long as both options are available. Even an archery based warrior is better using a crossbow until level 5, but at that point investing in Crossbow Master is a good feat choice. The only real reason to do otherwise is for flavor, and some people have a hard time taking sub-optimal choices for flavor reasons.

IMO the crossbow should have been simple weapons (because they really are compared to bows), while the bows should have been martial, and both deal the same damage. The difference between the types would then be primarily the Heavy property. A bow would be better due to the lack of the loading property, but not better before the extra attack becomes available. This means that ranged warriors could use either equally, but would probably just start with a bow, since that's what they'd want at level 5 anyway. Rogues, Clerics, and other non-warrior classes could use crossbows for similar effect, with the loading property not interfering.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
A lot of people (me especially) really hate the way they did a lot of the armor and weapons in 5E. You are correct that there's no reason for a rogue to use a shortbow rather than a light crossbow, so long as both options are available. Even an archery based warrior is better using a crossbow until level 5, but at that point investing in Crossbow Master is a good feat choice. The only real reason to do otherwise is for flavor, and some people have a hard time taking sub-optimal choices for flavor reasons.

IMO the crossbow should have been simple weapons (because they really are compared to bows), while the bows should have been martial, and both deal the same damage. The difference between the types would then be primarily the Heavy property. A bow would be better due to the lack of the loading property, but not better before the extra attack becomes available. This means that ranged warriors could use either equally, but would probably just start with a bow, since that's what they'd want at level 5 anyway. Rogues, Clerics, and other non-warrior classes could use crossbows for similar effect, with the loading property not interfering.
The Heavy propery seems to be exclusive to Martial weapons... for... some reason...
 

Xeviat

Explorer
I think rogues only can use a hand crossbow which is the same damage as a shortbow but with less range and more weight.
Light crossbows and short bows are simple weapons, so the rogue can use them. The rogue's proficiencies spell out the hand crossbow since it is a simple weapon.

A lot of people (me especially) really hate the way they did a lot of the armor and weapons in 5E. You are correct that there's no reason for a rogue to use a shortbow rather than a light crossbow, so long as both options are available. Even an archery based warrior is better using a crossbow until level 5, but at that point investing in Crossbow Master is a good feat choice. The only real reason to do otherwise is for flavor, and some people have a hard time taking sub-optimal choices for flavor reasons.

IMO the crossbow should have been simple weapons (because they really are compared to bows), while the bows should have been martial, and both deal the same damage. The difference between the types would then be primarily the Heavy property. A bow would be better due to the lack of the loading property, but not better before the extra attack becomes available. This means that ranged warriors could use either equally, but would probably just start with a bow, since that's what they'd want at level 5 anyway. Rogues, Clerics, and other non-warrior classes could use crossbows for similar effect, with the loading property not interfering.
I mostly agree that the crossbows should all be simple and the bows should all be martial. At first, I liked that the short bow was simple, because it was invented so early in human history. But, after looking at the time needed for crossbow training vs bow training, I'm more inclined to support it; the short bow can be humanity's first martial weapon.

The problem would then be that only halflings and gnomes would use shortbows and light crossbows, as the heavy property wouldn't really hurt medium-sized characters.

I'm really tempted to dusting off my 3.5E styled weapon table. I liked the choice between Threat Range or Crit Multiplier.
 

Sabathius42

Adventurer
I didn't think rogues could use all simple weapons since they have a called out selection from the list, like the wizard. The cleric had the blanket "simple weapons".

I could be wrong, I'm working from DND Beyond and not my PHB.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Light crossbows and short bows are simple weapons, so the rogue can use them. The rogue's proficiencies spell out the hand crossbow since it is a simple weapon.



I mostly agree that the crossbows should all be simple and the bows should all be martial. At first, I liked that the short bow was simple, because it was invented so early in human history. But, after looking at the time needed for crossbow training vs bow training, I'm more inclined to support it; the short bow can be humanity's first martial weapon.

The problem would then be that only halflings and gnomes would use shortbows and light crossbows, as the heavy property wouldn't really hurt medium-sized characters.

I'm really tempted to dusting off my 3.5E styled weapon table. I liked the choice between Threat Range or Crit Multiplier.
I’d suggest giving bows the Finesse property. A crossbow is drawn by mechanical power, so the effectiveness of a shot is all about precision (dexterity). But a bow is drawn by manpower alone, and how much damage you can do with one has as much to do with the draw weight you can handle (Strength). Realistically bows would have a minimum strength and a damage bonus that scales accordingly, but for simplicity’s sake, I think just slapping Finesse on them should suffice. Or go the 3.x route and have more expensive “compound” versions with Finesse.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
I didn't think rogues could use all simple weapons since they have a called out selection from the list, like the wizard. The cleric had the blanket "simple weapons".

I could be wrong, I'm working from DND Beyond and not my PHB.
My PHB is right here. It specifically says:

"Weapons: Simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords"

D&D Beyond says the exact same thing: "Simple weapons".
 

Xeviat

Explorer
I’d suggest giving bows the Finesse property. A crossbow is drawn by mechanical power, so the effectiveness of a shot is all about precision (dexterity). But a bow is drawn by manpower alone, and how much damage you can do with one has as much to do with the draw weight you can handle (Strength). Realistically bows would have a minimum strength and a damage bonus that scales accordingly, but for simplicity’s sake, I think just slapping Finesse on them should suffice. Or go the 3.x route and have more expensive “compound” versions with Finesse.
What are you suggesting? Crossbows and bows both get to add Dexterity to hit and Damage. The Finesse property isn't a ranged thing, it's for melee weapons. The Thrown property uses Strength to hit and damage when a melee weapon is thrown as a ranged weapon, unless it has finesse (then you can use str or dex).

In 3E, ranged weapons didn't get an ability modifier to damage, except for composite bows, but that damage required strength. They still used Dex to hit.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
What are you suggesting? Crossbows and bows both get to add Dexterity to hit and Damage. The Finesse property isn't a ranged thing, it's for melee weapons.
There’s actually nothing in the rules that says a ranged weapon can’t have the Finesse property, and in fact, darts have it. The precise wording of the effects of the Finesse property is: “When making an attack with a finesse weapon, you use your choice of your strength or dexterity modifier for the attack and damage rolls. You must use the same modifier for both rolls.”

So, darts can be used with the wielder’s choice of Strength or Dexterity, and I am suggesting that to give bows a leg up over crossbows, you give them this property as well.

In 3E, ranged weapons didn't get an ability modifier to damage, except for composite bows, but that damage required strength. They still used Dex to hit.
Perhaps phrasing it as “going the 3e route” obfuscated my meaning. My intent was to suggest that, if simply giving shotbows and longbows Finesse seems like it would make them too powerful, you could consider leaving them unchanged and adding “composite shortbow” and “composite longbow” to the weapons table, which you could leave identical to their non-composite counterparts, but with the addition of the Finesse property.
 

neogod22

Explorer
I’d suggest giving bows the Finesse property. A crossbow is drawn by mechanical power, so the effectiveness of a shot is all about precision (dexterity). But a bow is drawn by manpower alone, and how much damage you can do with one has as much to do with the draw weight you can handle (Strength). Realistically bows would have a minimum strength and a damage bonus that scales accordingly, but for simplicity’s sake, I think just slapping Finesse on them should suffice. Or go the 3.x route and have more expensive “compound” versions with Finesse.
There's no reason to slap finesse on them since ALL ranged weapons use DEX anyway.
 

neogod22

Explorer
There’s actually nothing in the rules that says a ranged weapon can’t have the Finesse property, and in fact, darts have it. The precise wording of the effects of the Finesse property is: “When making an attack with a finesse weapon, you use your choice of your strength or dexterity modifier for the attack and damage rolls. You must use the same modifier for both rolls.”

So, darts can be used with the wielder’s choice of Strength or Dexterity, and I am suggesting that to give bows a leg up over crossbows, you give them this property as well.


Perhaps phrasing it as “going the 3e route” obfuscated my meaning. My intent was to suggest that, if simply giving shotbows and longbows Finesse seems like it would make them too powerful, you could consider leaving them unchanged and adding “composite shortbow” and “composite longbow” to the weapons table, which you could leave identical to their non-composite counterparts, but with the addition of the Finesse property.
The reason darts have the finesse property, is because they are melee weapons with the thrown property. Thrown weapons be default use STR
 

mach1.9pants

Adventurer
Edit. This is in reply to finesse, on a ranged weapon, bizarrely allowing strength to be used instead of dex - a nifty idea imo

Yeah and real longbowmen were physical beasts, with big muscle formation and resultant bone growth

Many people think of this when talking archers
1575440639031.jpeg

I think of this!
1575440504940.jpeg
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
There's no reason to slap finesse on them since ALL ranged weapons use DEX anyway.
What @ccs said.

The reason darts have the finesse property, is because they are melee weapons with the thrown property. Thrown weapons be default use STR
Darts are absolutely not melee weapons. They’re literally under the heading “simple ranged weapons” on the weapons table. If they did not have the Finesse property, you would not be able to use Strength to attack with them because they are not melee weapons with the thrown property. They are ranged weapons with the thrown property.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
What @ccs said.


Darts are absolutely not melee weapons. They’re literally under the heading “simple ranged weapons” on the weapons table. If they did not have the Finesse property, you would not be able to use Strength to attack with them because they are not melee weapons with the thrown property. They are ranged weapons with the thrown property.
Well but people tend to think of darts like used in the game at the pub,
they are not, instead they are in fact short spears. You could melee a bit using them in an emergency.
Obviously the romans invented and used them, google plumbata. From the plumbus = lead (Pb) and what I see in the google pictures and already read somewhere I conclude that these were weighted with lead.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Well but people tend to think of darts like used in the game at the pub,
they are not, instead they are in fact short spears. You could melee a bit using them in an emergency.
Obviously the romans invented and used them, google plumbata. From the plumbus = lead (Pb) and what I see in the google pictures and already read somewhere I conclude that these were weighted with lead.
Historically, yes, that's what the weapon called a "dart" is. But frankly, that's better represented by the javelin, as they are basically just fletched javelins. The weapon by the name of "dart" in the D&D 5e weapons table though, can't be used in melee except as an improvised weapon, because it's ranged.
 

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