D&D 5E The gastraphetes or belly bow in 5E and using movement to reload

Quartz

Hero
How would you model the gastraphetes or belly bow in 5e?



It's far quicker to reload than a standard crossbow but has a far lower accuracy. No goat's foot or cranequin needed. So rather than give it the Loading property, how about making reloads use movement? Say 10' of movement per reload? What range would you give it?

I'm thinking that its stat line could be

Crossbow, belly: 50 gp 1d8 piercing 10 lb Ammunition (range 30 / 100), heavy, two-handed, special loading

I'm putting the maximum range so low not because the bolts won't reach that far but to reflect the low accuracy.

And would you make it a Simple or Martial ranged weapon?

This then led me to think about using movement to reload all crossbows. Because when you're reloading a crossbow you're not moving. So perhaps a light crossbow would require 20' of movement to reload within a turn and a heavy crossbow 30' of movement and the Crossbow Expert feat would halve (or perhaps cut by 10') the amount of movement required. This would have the advantage of making the Crossbow Expert non-mandatory unless you were a high-level Fighter.

What do you think?
 

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the Jester

Legend
AFAIK, there is literally nothing other than movement in 5e that costs movement. There are no "move actions", there is no trading your movement for a minor action, there is no swapping your movement out for some other thing. I think it's probably best to stick to that, since it's clearly a core part of 5e design.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I dunno about the bow, the stats seem reasonable but I reckon Jeorg Sprave is really a gnome or is related to a gnome. The things he comes up with.
 


AFAIK, there is literally nothing other than movement in 5e that costs movement. There are no "move actions", there is no trading your movement for a minor action, there is no swapping your movement out for some other thing. I think it's probably best to stick to that, since it's clearly a core part of 5e design.

The Steady Aim action for Rogue's Cunning Action from Tasha's is as close as it gets:

As a bonus action, you give yourself advantage on your next attack roll on the current turn. You can use this bonus action only if you haven’t moved during this turn, and after you use the bonus action, your speed is 0 until the end of the current turn.


It would be easy enough to take the language from the second sentence and turn it into a weapon property.
 

MGibster

Legend
AFAIK, there is literally nothing other than movement in 5e that costs movement. There are no "move actions", there is no trading your movement for a minor action, there is no swapping your movement out for some other thing. I think it's probably best to stick to that, since it's clearly a core part of 5e design.
There's the Dash action giving a character extra movement for the current turn. It's not called a "move action" but that's what it is.
 


Horwath

Hero
IMHO, 5E is too generous with loading time of crossbows.

I would put crossbows like this:

Heavy crossbow; simple, 2d8 damage, twohanded, heavy, Loading: Action,
Light crossbow; simple, 2d6 damage, twohanded, Loading: Action,
Handcrossbow; simple, 1d8 damage, light, Loading: Bonus action,

Crossbow expert reduces loading from Action to Bonus action and Bonus action to free.

This contraption might qualify then as a Bonus action reload.
 



auburn2

Adventurer
How would you model the gastraphetes or belly bow in 5e?



It's far quicker to reload than a standard crossbow but has a far lower accuracy. No goat's foot or cranequin needed. So rather than give it the Loading property, how about making reloads use movement? Say 10' of movement per reload? What range would you give it?

I'm thinking that its stat line could be

Crossbow, belly: 50 gp 1d8 piercing 10 lb Ammunition (range 30 / 100), heavy, two-handed, special loading

I'm putting the maximum range so low not because the bolts won't reach that far but to reflect the low accuracy.

And would you make it a Simple or Martial ranged weapon?

This then led me to think about using movement to reload all crossbows. Because when you're reloading a crossbow you're not moving. So perhaps a light crossbow would require 20' of movement to reload within a turn and a heavy crossbow 30' of movement and the Crossbow Expert feat would halve (or perhaps cut by 10') the amount of movement required. This would have the advantage of making the Crossbow Expert non-mandatory unless you were a high-level Fighter.

What do you think?
I think this is a heavy crossbow and it should keep the loading property. While it is supposedly easier to load than a traditional heavy crossbow, it is still more diffcult than a light crossbow, substantially more difficult than a blowgun and probably more difficult than a hand crossbow too. All these weapons have a loading property and this should too IMO.
 



Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It's far quicker to reload than a standard crossbow but has a far lower accuracy.

Depends on what you are calling a "standard" crossbow. They make/made lighter crossbows that don't use a windlass or cranequin, and they take a skilled user about 7 seconds to reload.
 

Quartz

Hero
Depends on what you are calling a "standard" crossbow. They make/made lighter crossbows that don't use a windlass or cranequin, and they take a skilled user about 7 seconds to reload.

I know they make them now, but I believe the lever action ones are a modern invention. Old light crossbows used to use a goat's foot device.
 

I know they make them now, but I believe the lever action ones are a modern invention. Old light crossbows used to use a goat's foot device.
In a fantasy setting the question is whether that's an accident of history of an an actual unassailable technological issue though.

Some other stuff from that channel suggests more stuff is an accident of history/no-one came up with it rather than it wasn't possible with materials from the period or the like.

(Of course I feel sure if we went back in time we'd find out they were both doing clever stuff we didn't know about and not doing stuff because they knew how but some factor we're not considering made it impractical).
 

I know they make them now, but I believe the lever action ones are a modern invention. Old light crossbows used to use a goat's foot device.

No, they're historic, too.

There are a ton of ways crossbows are spanned. The spanning method seems to have really been the primary blocker of innovation, probably because the limit to a crossbow isn't just how strong you can make the draw weight, but how practical it is to span. There's just such variety. There's the Greek belly bow (gastraphetes), Chinese repeating crossbow (internal hand lever), stirrup, stirrup and claw, stirrup and belt hooks, gaffe levers, goats feet levers, a windlass or winch, cranequins, hand pulleys, etc. Crossbows are technology that cover thousands of years, and on top of that it depends on what the target is, how the bow will be used, etc. When your opponents are just in maille, you don't really need a heavy crossbow.
 

I know they make them now, but I believe the lever action ones are a modern invention. Old light crossbows used to use a goat's foot device.

I have been on a Tod's Workshop videos kick recently and they are a bit misleading on this point because he A) makes almost exclusively steel crossbows, which are designed for use with spanning devices, and B) really likes his goats foot lever because it is an elegant device that appeals to him and makes crossbow loading pretty painless. But lighter crossbows (up to about 150 pound draw-weight) could be handspanned. That's what the stirrup at the front is about, putting your foot through and pulling up, either by hand or with spanning belt. Steel bow crossbows are very inefficient and make up for this by having much higher draw-weights than their wood and composite predecessors, necessitating more involved spanning methods.

The crossbow issue with D&D is people tend to imagine all the crossbows are hand-spanned. Perfectly reasonable with the handcrossbow, whose anemic 30 foot non-disadvantaged range fairly indicates that it is a small device with a pretty light draw-weight. Reasonable enough to handwave with the light crossbow, though it probably should involve a movement penalty because realistically it would involve, standing (or sitting) still, putting it to the ground and sticking a foot through the stirrup. But anything that can remotely be called a "heavy crossbow" should require some sort of more involved spanning device. More importantly to gameplay, no feat in crossbow expertise should let someone get off more than one heavy crossbow shot in a round, because just getting it down to a 6 second reload and aim time is an extraordinary feat. Unless by "heavy crossbow" we just mean "heavy for a handspanned crossbow" in which case the damage should be reduced, and a bunch of seriously beastly crossbows with awkward loading requirements should be added.
 

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