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D&D 5E Composite Long And Shortbow Conversion?


So, I wanted to add the Composite Longbow and the Composite Shortbow to my games, but I'm finding it a little difficult to convert it over from when I use to play until now. While looking around, I found that the last edition to have it was 3.5, but I don't have the books for it. There are a few things running through my mind on this, but basically, I want to bring these over because I play with a few that want to be able to use them again. I was thinking of just using the short and longbow already there, but reading around, a lot of people either say it really doesn't work, or that it works too well and now I'm confused. What I want to know is:
  1. Why did they ever get rid of it from 3.5?
  2. Has anyone ever converted it from older editions with any success?
  3. Is there a mathematical equation or anything that I could use on older editions to convert weapons, much like monsters?
  4. Would having these in the game take away from ranged classes in some way and is that the reason they are gone?
I have a few more questions that are running through my head, but these ones seem to just stick out to me right now. Mainly I just want to bring these back because I feel they added to the variety of ranged weapons, but I don't want to throw anything too out of whack. Any and all help with this is greatly appreciated.

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(Fairly certain I'm remembering what each edition used below)

#1 and 4 are kindof the same reason. After 3.5, there wasn't a split between your attack and damage stats.

In 3.5 and earlier, Dex was used for determining ranged accuracy, but didn't add to the damage. Composite bows allowed decent/high strength characters to add their bonus to damage.

In 5e, and I believe 4e, the attack stat added to damage, so therewas no need for composite bows. The only people they would be useful for would be high strength, low/mid dexterity characters that didn't just use thrown weapons.


Composite bows allowed you to add your STR modifier to damage when shooting. They had a chart for buying a +1 to +5 for 100gp per plus.

I do not think it is needed in 5e, but can be added and not do much harm to things. I'm wondering what classes or combos would benefit the most.


Possibly a Idiot.
Any weapon that splits your accuracy and damage out over two stats is going to be strictly inferior to standard weapons.

A bow that is modified to use STR instead of DEX for both accuracy and damage will, at best, provide a decent ranged backup for heavy melee characters, and be downgrade for characters who are primarily ranged to begin with.


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I'd just give composite bows the Finesse property so they can be used with the player's choice of Strength or Dexterity. This would probably be the most straightforward conversion, with the only potential issue being that it would allow strength-focused characters to have a long-range (as in, longer than the 30 feet or so you can get with thrown weapons) option without having to invest in Dexterity at all. But, I don't think that's a huge deal.

Well, I was wanting to give STR-based characters something to use ranged outside of just javelins and lances, but I didn't want to really just take the bow and add finesse to it because I feel it would be taking away from the DEX-based classes. I like the idea of adding finesse, not saying it's not viable, it just seems really...I don't know, I wanted to kind of add a weapon instead of just confiscating one...if that makes sense. (sorry, I posted this on my final break and I'm kind of tired now that I'm home, so forgive my wishy-washy wording lol) I like the notion of them being separate and distinct things. Also hearing a bit more about what they were like when they were last printed, thanks to aco175, Dragongrief, and Leatherhead, I think I might be able to come up with something that is separate and distinct...maybe. Knowing my brain it won't sleep until I figure this out no matter how tired the rest of me is LOL! With my knowledge from the past and new knowledge from here, and not being able to sleep otherwise, I might post it here if everyone is alright with it. I might post it in a different post, don't know yet lol.

I suppose you could let the bow stack your Strength and Dex damage.

So, a +1 STR composite bow would work exactly like a regular bow except you get to add +1 damage if your Strength is 12 or higher.

So, while it seems powerful because you get to stack Dex damage and Strength damage, It's weaker than a magic bow (which gives +1 to hit AND damage) and it's also limited by the character's strength.

Maybe it would be an issue if you had a magical composite bow? IDK.

Edit: I just repeated what aco175 said
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Well, I was wanting to give STR-based characters something to use ranged outside of just javelins and lances, but I didn't want to really just take the bow and add finesse to it because I feel it would be taking away from the DEX-based classes.
You could look to other weapons that do not get love if this is one of the goals.

Crossbows- making them composite would be just the same as making normal bows composite and a bit meh.
Darts- maybe a bit less damage than you want and tends to steal from the 1e/2e wizard in terms of flavor.
Atlatl- Here is something nobody takes and could be used, but you need to explain what it is to everyone, but it could use javelins to make it work.
Wand of Firebolt- Gives you the range without the worries and does great damage besides.

Another thing you could do is make cool bow powers tied to STR. There used to be cool arrows like war arrows that did more damage with limited range, or ones that dazed for a round. Some things start to look like magic spells and may step on a few toes at some point though.

Grappling Hook- range 90ft, Need a +2 modifier to shoot a grappling hook that is tied to 100ft of rope. Make a separate check for the hook to catch.
Flight of Arrows- range 60ft, targets all creatures in a 15x15ft cube. Need a +3 modifier to shoot a bundle of arrows that splits open in flight to target each square.
Rain of Fire- Range 90ft, targets all creatures in a 5ft wide line. Needs a +4 modifier to shoot a gas-filled canister along the line. DEX save or 3d6 fire damage. (can also change damage type).


To repeat myself from other thread,

it's easier to do it with increasing base damage die depending on STR:

every bow is made with STR of user in mind, you can always use weaker bow with no problem, but with penalties if you use a bow too strong for you:

STR 8, d4 Piercing damage
STR 10, d6
STR 12, d8
STR 14, d10
STR 18, d12
STR 20, 2d6

without required STR, you have disadvantage on attack roll and deal minimum damage.

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