Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More on the Knight Killer Crossbow

SeaOfStars asked in yesterday's post whether a knight killer crossbow should weigh more. I dug into my notes taken from GURPS and historical sources and the answer is sort of.

The crossbow would be bulkier but not that much. Probably 12 pounds. If you want further balance you could say that you need a minimum strength of 12 or suffer a -4 penalty to hit. This accounts for the increased recoil.

The cranequin used to cock the crossbow weighs 9 pounds. But it is also detachable. You could argue that a built in stirrup and windlass is accounted in the extra weight. As for price much of the crossbow is still wood and still a relatively simple mechanical device. If you using a feudal society where the knights are effectively law enforcers the Knight Killer could viewed as an illegal weapon. Especially with it's name.

However to be honest saying that it double the price and double the weight is not going to have all that much of an effect in the abstract combat system of D&D. It is a single shot, highly accurate, high damage weapon. If the party relies on using this as their main attack and the first volley misses they are in big trouble.

Finally this was developed when the shoe was on the other foot. The party were the city guards dealing with adventurers. When the next campaign came around they had to deal with the consequences of their own innovation.

In of itself the Knight-Killer looks like a freebie handed to the players. However it makes sense when placed in the context of the campaign I ran.


Anonymous said...

Crosswbows were illegal. Sorta.
Apparently they were excommunicated in the Second Lateran Council. This is also mentioned in Scott's Ivanhoe (the eponym character is killed by a bolt in a siege).

McNeill in his "The Pursuit of Power" explains that in China an "early " industrial revolution managed to produce enough iron that shaped the social pact in a way that masses of peasants were equipped with heavy crossbows from the ruling class, making heavily armoured knights kinda useless. Thus the social pact was more or less "the bureaucracy will keep the low class safe from warlords, if the prole keeps on working"

I really dig crossbows. I will write about them soon I guess :)

Anonymous said...

Well, took me a while, but here's some thoughts on crossbows.

Anonymous said...

I meant to point to my post on crossbows ;)