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Fantasy Archer PC?

 
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Fantasy Archers Are:
NPCs.
0%
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Need to come in packs of 6 or more
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Can be effective PCs if done right
100%
 100%  [ 22 ]
Total Votes : 22

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DanOrc
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:51 pm    Post subject: Fantasy Archer PC? Reply with quote

Hello,

For my own entertainment/getting to know the system better I've been looking at the logistics of a PC in a fantasy world who's a combat archer specialist, but the mechanics of doing so seem difficult. Fantasy per the core rules in SWEX just seems heavily tilted towards primarily melee/caster types, in terms of combat effectiveness anyway.

While disregarding parry and rolling against a TN of 4, not to mention the ability to attack an enemy outside of melee range, are certainly advantages, the damage cap of 2d6 and complete lack of standard Edges granting multiple attacks are severe limitations compared to a high-Strength ambidextrous two fisted chop-o-matic type. The chance of shootin' yer melee buddies isn't so great strategically either (but possibly lots of fun). Mr. Green

My current strategy would be marksman (of course), trademark weapon, and maybe Noble or some sort of background edge to start with a magic bow. Called Shots are obviously key to upping the damage here too. This would be combined with either:

1. The Level-Headed 2/Deadly Shot combo This seems promising as well (though very expensive, what with the d8 Smarts and 3 edges necessary, and unreliable in a pinch).

2. An Arcane Background approach for Smite, Quickness, or even Burrow could also work, but really, at that point, giving up the archer premise, picking up Bolt, and going full caster would be more advantageous from a pure twinkish perspective at that point.

Has anyone had any luck building a combat archer? I did check out the Edges compendium, and the Shaintar archer edges are shiny, but for experienced characters and don't address the fundamental damage/multiple attacks problem. Is there a particular fantasy setting that has good rules on this?

I appreciate any thoughts or experiences you feel like sharing.
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quigs
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good ways to up damage with a bow are:
- Raise your shooting die as high as possible, remember a raise on the attack roll equals +1d6 damage.
- The No Mercy edge. Rerolling damage is always good.
- Marksman edge is a no-brainer.
- Called shots are also a no-brainer.
- Trademark Weapon edge is good too.
- The Wizards and Warriors PDF had two elf racial edges in it that let you fire a bow twice at a single target within short range at -2 (the improved edge removed the -2). Humans and half-elves could also get the first of the edges using the Adaptable edge in that same PDF. You could always just make a new edge like it and apply it to your character's race instead of only elves in your campaign.
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Noshrok Grimskull
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, Evernight has something that lets you attack more than one target in a single action and Sherwood: Legend of Robin Hood has an Edge that lets you attack at even greater ranges than usual.

Combine these with Quick (or Level-Headed), Improved Trademark Weapon, Marksman and Dead Shot and you get a pretty deadly archer...
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jpk
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another great option is Level Headed, Improved Level Headed, and Dead Shot.

Going earlier in the round makes ranged attacks that much more effective, and helps prevent opponents from going at all. Once you're drawing three initiative cards, your chances at getting a Joker are over five percent assuming you're the first draw off a fresh deck, and they only get better.
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shadd4d
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're having a problem about getting rushed, first strike is also a good thing to have; at higher initiative you'll pick off your enemy and if you're stuck going later, then you can attack him when he comes up, interrupting the attack and maybe getting lucky and at least shaking the melee fighter.

Don
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DanOrc
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:25 pm    Post subject: I:LH and DS Reply with quote

Yeah, Improved Level Headed and DS is quite effective. I've crunched some numbers on these guys.

First off, Improved Level Headed is just ridiculously superior to the Quick Edge.

Here are the odds as I've calculated it:

Joker chance normally: 3.7% (2/54)
With LH: 7.34%
With I:LH 10.9%

So, the odds of drawing a joker do nearly double and triple with the extra draws, as you'd reasonably expect intuitively.

Adding Quick at the end of this does virtually nothing however, only adding an entirely insignificant roughly 0.08% chance at a Joker, because you have to not draw a joker in the first three rounds, AND have to draw a 5 or less on EACH of those three draws and THEN draw a joker on your highly improbably extra draw.

The Quick edge alone is less than a 2% increase in chances of drawing a joker (calculating the exact value is more annoying than it's worth due to the repeatability of drawing more cards.)

So, the end result is that the investment of 2 Att raises into Smarts and three Edges results in a significant initiative boost, and an 7.2% better chance of dealing a joker, giving a 10.9% chance of getting a Joker in total and dealing double damage when doing so.

Definitely worthwhile, but it effectively takes up all of Seasoned rank to get this combination going.
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Tavis
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shaintar also has the Archer and Combat Archer edges, which can make for a more effective character through reducing penalties and allowing the bow to be used as a weapon in close combat.

The 'Archer' in my Evernight campaign is using both of those, along with Marksman, Improved Double Shot and Improved Trademark weapon.

I've also allowed him to apply Marksman to Agility tricks that used the trapping of 'trick shot' - at the cost of using the ammunition described in the trick - things like pinning clothes to the wall, shrieking signal arrows (made with his Repair skill, no less) and such like.
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DanOrc
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:44 pm    Post subject: Ooooh Reply with quote

Tavis: Improved Double-Shot? Is that the Evernight edge that Grimskull was referencing?

I like the Marksman Agility trick thing. It doesn't seem reasonable that both Acrobat and Marksman Trick bonuses would stack, I wouldn't imagine.

"No, seriously, I'm doing backflips as I pin him to the wall with arrows" Razz

Shadd: Wouldn't you have to have a melee weapon out to qualify for First Strike? Or are you talking about a loose-ish GM interpretation that an archer would be able to take a shot with that edge? The Edge pretty clearly says "Fighting" roll. "Combat Archer" would possibly add to the argument that it should apply.

I guess part of my problem is that since SW is a universal system, the Shooting is more geared towards modern balance. Firing two shots per round with a bazooka or two three round bursts in a round with a powerful assault rifle is an entirely different animal from two arrow-shots, game-balance wise.

It's good to hear about the Evernight edges and the Shaintar edges; the Wizards and Warriors thing was helpful too. God, I need more money to buy shiny gaming books. They both seem like really cool settings.
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shadd4d
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nope; I'm saying the archer can either try to use his bow to poke the attacker in the eye or make use of the "fists of fury".

Citing your example, while the 2x 3-round burst might be technically possible, the bazooka would never work as it would need to be reloaded and that would either incur a non-possible MAP or some help from a character on hold to reload; also note that a LAW, Panzerfaust, AT-4 and such are not reloadable with the exception of the RPG series.

Don
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DanOrc
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:16 pm    Post subject: Well.... Reply with quote

Weeeell, technically, if you were somehow allowed to take two shots in a round in a modern setting, you could hypothetically have two LAWs on you (they're not that heavy, though they are bulky), and fire, drop the empty, quickdraw with an agility check required I'd imagine, and fire, no? Matrix style! #gunbattle

I kid. But more importantly, I'm not really that concerned about it. My point was rather that I understand why the core rules treat ranged combat edges gingerly. It just seems that fantasy settings either don't pay much attention to archers specifically to compensate, or the edges that are out there seem relatively weak to me.

Or am I underestimating the effectiveness of archer PCs in an SW fantasy setting? That's seeming more and more likely here. I haven't been playing SW for that long... so that's why I'm curious about people's experiences.

Thanks for all the great feedback so far!
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Porkchop Express
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why don't you just give bows a ROF 2?
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Clint
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Well.... Reply with quote

DanOrc wrote:
Or am I underestimating the effectiveness of archer PCs in an SW fantasy setting?


Well, I played one if that tells you anything. Wink

Part of the trick is knowing how they work differently from a melee fighter. Sure, it looks like melee gets all the cool Edges, but they generally have to take two Edges to the archer's one. The archer's key capability is playing off their lower TN to hit. By getting bonuses and negating penalties, they can use standard combat options for additional effects and benefits (of which, their bread and butter is the Called Shot).

Consider the Archer with Marksman and Improved Trademark Weapon, he has a +4 bonus to hit with his bow versus a based TN of 4. He only needs a +2 bonus to hit on anything other than a critical failure, so he can take a -2 penalty without blinking an eye. He can keep targets up to 24" away (30" with the long bow) and be almost guaranteed to hit them. Or he can make a Called Shot at -2 to Disarm or maybe avoid Armor, and he still has a +2 to this roll. At Short Range, he could make a Called Shot at -4 for +4 damage, and still only need a 4 or better to hit.

A melee fighter with Improved Trademark weapon and one other Edge might get Frenzy at Seasoned, so 2 attacks at a -2 which negates the Improved Trademark weapon bonus until he gets a fourth Edge to buy off the penalty. Called Shot for him is not as beneficial; there is no +2 option like Marksman provides, so taking a -4 penalty is still going to leave a -2, which really equates to a +2 above Parry (which is typically higher than 4 to begin with) as a TN.

Playing an archer is tactical in a different way from melee. Honestly some of the most useful "archer" Edges haven't been mentioned.

Fleet-Footed - Almost the top of the list. Seriously. One key to an archer is to maintain the range advantage. Even as a Novice, you can run 9" to 18" and still hit a target potentially on a 6 or better (the equivalent of a d8 Fighting Parry). It is also hugely important when Marksman is picked up since Marksman allows no movement. Standard tactic: find a position and shoot from there, if the position is endangered make a running shot to a new position and start over.

Dodge and Improved Dodge - Fleet-Footed can keep the character out of melee, but these counter the other issue of ranged attacks coming in (no substitute for Cover though; in fact it's additive, so stack all the penalties possible... using Fleet-Footed to gain them).

Edges that were mentioned...

First Strike and Improved First Strike- There is no Fighting requirement for the Edge, and it's not limited to having a melee weapon. If someone does catch up to the archer, they get a free attack. It may not do anything, but every time it causes just a Shaken, it can be enough to allow the character to get out of melee again. Plus, it's a good fallback melee ability for the character that also combines well with Fleet-Footed.

Level-Headed and Improved Level-Headed - Forget about the Dead Shot combo, and just consider the initiative advantage. A ranged combatant has to work the field of battle, and it is much harder to do that if you are reacting after the fact. An opponent may move after you on one round to within running distance on the next, and you need to hedge your bets that next round you will go first and move so they can't pin you. On top of that, besides the extra benefit of Dead Shot, just getting the Joker more often is going to make a big difference. +2 to damage and +2 to hit, which as discusses is a powerful effect for an archer who can trade it off for even more damage pretty easily.

All the standard Shooting Edges and Double Shot from W&W and there are a few Edges from Modern Martial Arts (at Reality Blurs website) that could help (Accurate Attack, Heightened Senses and Improved HS).

Other Edges to look at...

Quick Draw - If someone does get in melee, it takes no time to draw a weapon; plus, it might require an Agility roll, but it also allows getting the bow out without a penalty on the first round of a combat when range has an advantage.

Giant Killer - Sure a melee guy could take it, but they generally have to take two Edges for their other abilities and don't look at this one. Combined with the easy bonuses for Shooting at a lower TN and the inherent bonuses for hitting targets that are Large or Huge, this makes the archer the giant/dragon slayer supreme.

Hard to Kill - It's based off Spirit, not Vigor, so the character doesn't have to be "tough" to get it, but his chance of survival goes way up.

Strong Willed - Tests of Will don't have range or cover penalties, so this is not only an excellent "back-up weapon" for the archer, but also a defense against foes who use that tactic on them.

Anyway, just some things to consider. Hope it helps.
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Tuesday
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An archer can, easily, hit a 2d6+5 (3d6+5 on some rounds) attack against anyone on the field, almost every round, ignoring armor. Against some targets, he'll have to take a -6 penalty to ignore armor by aiming for the eyeslits on a helmet or similar.

2d6+5 has a *miminum* result of 7, which Shakes any character of up to Vigor D10 (remember, no armor counts. It's got an average of more like 12, which is a *Wound* to a character with a Vigor of D12.

Anyone who wants to avoid this has to either stay VERY far away from the archer (which is hard to do and usually limits your ability to fight back, meaning he drops normal 2d6+1 hits on you instead until you drop), or you go prone or hide behind cover - which pins you down effectively, meaning the other PCs can ignore you and kill all your friends, or they can get up next to you and give you a choice of being protected from the archer by being prone or having the melee fighter stave in your skull because you're prone.

Archers have *plenty* of damage output. They don't get multiattacks the way a Frenzying fighter do, but their insignificant TN to hit means they are hitting a called shot every round, often with a raise.
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DanOrc
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:13 am    Post subject: Well then. Reply with quote

Wow, thanks for the great feedback!

Clint: Yes, that was quite invaluable. It's good to hear your ringing endorsement of the overall experience. Also, the additional info about the Wizards and Warriors and your excellent MMA PDF there was worth starting this thread for alone.

I had never thought about First Strike basically meaning you could just punch the guy. Would certainly combo well with the Shaintar Combat Archer.

Quick Draw and a Spear would be another disengagement strategy I was thinking of, especially with Level Headed.

Fleet Footed seemed like one of those things that --could-- be useful and was on my radar, but I was not sure how well it'd work out in actual practice. Acrobat was also on my radar for this reason as well for disengagement Agility Tricks, Parry self-defense, and to put obstacles between me and would be meleers.

Having a very high agility and Level Headed would be quite key to Interrupt opponents and bypass Cover as well I'd imagine.

Tuesday: I presume you're referring to the +1 from Man-Killer arrows?

All in all, thanks all, this has been most helpful. The comments and the polling have been equally unanimous. I'll have to give this a try next time I get a chance to make a new character (hopefully not soon! I do like to have a backup however.)
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DerFinsterling
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint has of course covered all the bases, so let me add that I was playing an archer in an online Evernight campaign.
One of the coolest characters I ever had, and also one of the most effective (combat-wise).

And I didn't need no stinkin' magic bow either! Very Happy
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DanOrc
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Question: Does the Evernight Player's Guide have the edges in it? $6 is more in my theoretical price range at some future date.

Also, in my research, the Traceur Edge in Savagepedia seems really interesting if decidedly unofficial looking. The actual art of Parkour that it talks about there is pretty intriguing in and of itself from a "real world" perspective as well.

http://savagepedia.wikispaces.com/Unofficial+Professional+Edges (down at the very bottom).
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Clint
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DanOrc wrote:
Question: Does the Evernight Player's Guide have the edges in it?


Yeah, it has all the player needed information, but I don't think you need it. The archer edges in Evernight (Double Shot and Improved Double Shot) are basically the same Edges from Wizards & Warriors. In fact, as I recall, the W&W versions were cleaned up a bit to be clearer.
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Tuesday
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I was referring to having a +1 for mankiller arrows. In high-fantasy settings, "war arrows" are quite traditional.

Even without them, 2d6+4 ignoring armor, chance of 3d6+4 isn't bad. Or hard, for a Seasoned character.
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