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What would be a realistic number of arrows an archer can have/carry/bring with him? Dozens or hundreds?

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A bit of context would help greatly here (in other words: why do you want to know?). I suspect the answer will be considerably different between adventurer, hunter out for a day trip, and guard on an extended journey (just to name a few variables). – AceCalhoon Oct 19 '11 at 14:51
Also, are you looking for how many the archer can transport? Or how many he can access? – SnakeDr68 Oct 19 '11 at 17:01
up vote 5 down vote accepted

If we're talking about how many arrows an archer can carry, I'd say it's limited only by carrying capacity - if you want to fill your backpack up with arrows, good for you.

I suspect what you want is: how many arrows can an archer fire in one encounter? (Keeping in mind that getting an arrow from a quiver is essentially "free", as opposed to retrieving something from a pack). At that point, I'd probably rule you're limited to two quivers - one on the hip, one on the back. If you don't have a backpack, I'd probably let you have a third (on the opposite shoulder). Once you've exhausted those, then I'd say you'd have to take actions to retrieve another quiver from your pack.

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Yes Allen, your suspect is right. I know that if you follow the rules, what one can carry is only limited by the carrying capacity. However I can't imagine an archer full of quivers full of arrows still having the same effectivness in moving with some dexterity and firing with the same precision... More general I think that carrying capacity(and the deriving encumbrance) should be treadted differently in combat... However, for me one is right and two still acceptable :) – Francesco Oct 24 '11 at 7:40
@Francesco - Keep in mind that 3.5 only cares about encumbrance as weight, not bulk. (As a proof, consider how astoundingly awkward it would be to carry around even a single 10-foot pole indoors.) – Allen Gould Oct 10 '14 at 16:02

Going by the pathfinder weapon stats here, a quiver contains 20 arrows and weighs 3 pounds. Therefore, you should be able to bring as many as you can carry, which depends on your carrying capacity and method of transportation.

Edit: A PC archer, by third level, can probably bring enough arrows with them (using a mount, a strong friend, a ship, or similar for what's to bulky for themselves) and has enough gold that it is not worth tracking how many arrows they expend in most cases.

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I wouldn't bind carrying capacity in such "situations". It is quite unimaginable an archer going around with hundreds/thousands arrows on his back... – Francesco Oct 19 '11 at 11:01
In my experience most D&D characters look ridiculous already, so that shouldn't add that much. Also, by the time they are carrying that many, they are probably using something else, like bags of holding or a mount, to transport them all. – sebsmith Oct 19 '11 at 11:21
I don't agree with your addition. A does not always have his mount/ship whatever with him (e.g., in a dungeon). And a high level ranger can expend a lot of arrows in a combat (more than one attack per round, many shot, ...). – Matteo Oct 20 '11 at 7:00
@Matteo By high level items like bags of holding are likely to be easily available. Other options for carrying arrows are using followers, hirelings, payed commoners, or similar. Note also that I didn't say there weren't cases where tracking arrows was a good idea. Examples for when I'd consider it worthwhile would be anytime you are trying to make your players resource strapped to increase suspense, for instance by killing or removing the source of extra arrows. – sebsmith Oct 20 '11 at 8:19
Let see here, my one dwarf carries at the ready a club (for skeletons), two or three battle axes (in case one breaks), a two-handed axe, a medium shield carried on his back and quite possibly one or two more weapons that is easy to reach. That doesn't count the 30 more weapons in his pocket of holding in his armor. (Damn you DM for "stealing" that!) Bulk? Hell ya! This dwarf has a 19 strength in 2e, so weight not much a problem. Long story short, if you are worried about weight, go by the rules. If you are worried about bulk, be sensible but knowing that they are usually over the top by some. – Mike Wills Oct 21 '11 at 20:47

Having carried 10 arrows per quiver with 1.5" diameter heads, and three quivers usably, doing SCA wars... and knowing that real combat arrows are under 1/2" diameter, one could reasonably shove 30+ arrows per quiver. Note that the second and third quiver was not draw-ready, but was where I could re-sling it on the field to draw from.

So, in theory, I'd say probably 120-160. But you're not going to want more than 30 in a quiver, and that quiver is several inches in diameter. It's not that heavy, but it is bulky.

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I would say 20 per quiver. I did not find something specific in the rules but reading the description of Efficient Quiver it seems that a normal quiver contains 20 arrows:

This Appears to be a typical arrow container capable of holding about 20 Arrows. It has three distinct portions, each with a nondimensional space allowing it to store far more than would normally be possible. The first and smallest one can contain up to 60 objects of the same general size and shape as an arrow. [...]

I would then say that if you have a backpack you can carry no more than one quiver

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As mentioned by @sebsmith and @Matteo, the rule is 20 arrows per standard quiver. When you play, you should also consider the logistics of a quiver's size, not just its weight. In real life practicality, a typical adventurer can really only carry one or two quivers at a time, making a practical limit of 20-40 arrows carried without using a mount or a henchman.

There are magical helpers as well, such as the Efficient Quiver that @Matteo mentioned (known as a Quiver of Elhonna in DnD editions), which can boost the capacity 3x or more.

Though rules vary or don't exist in the various rule-sets, our group typically will play a rule that 50% of arrows that don't hit their intended target are recoverable/reusable, which tends to lessen a little bit the problems associated with only being able to carry a finite number of arrows. Also, being able to scavenge arrows from defeated enemies helps as well.

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