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Inspired by Brian’s question here, which seems to have been answered with a pretty solid No, my follow-up question is whether or not allowing this to happen even though the rules do not would cause any significant problems at the table. Does this open up any serious abuses? Or, on the flip side, will the Rogue be unable to keep up?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Personally, I don't see the harm in it, and in fact I think you're probably losing more feat support by dropping the crossbow than you are by picking up the short bow. There is a lot of excellent feat support for a rogue cross bow user. The only real benefit I see is access to the "Halfling Short Bow Hunter" feat as well as maybe "Sly Hunter" at paragon.

The point about magic arrows vs magic bolts that Joshua makes is interesting, but they are rarely enough used and mechanically underpowered (don't stack with magic weapons) that I think that's safe to ignore.

To address whether or not this is a substantially weaker trade off, I don't think so. Again, weapons matter little to a rogue, their damage typically relies on the ability to apply that sneak attack damage. Typically short bow would be weaker than hand cross bow by a pretty significant degree, but making this houserule narrows the gap to a degree (repairing the to-hit disparity). The disadvantages I see mostly show up in paragon tier (you lose the ability to dual wield hand crossbows, you lose the extra attack on crit (both from two-fisted shooter).), and neither of them is particularly huge (the second attack only happens 5% of the time at paragon and 10% at epic). I don't find the trade to be a substantial one, though it is slightly weaker mechanically.

The tradeoffs seem like this is a reasonable exception to grant. To me the hand crossbow is a far superior weapon for a rogue, and this doesn't close the gap enough that I wouldn't make an exception for it.

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Yes there are a ton more crossbow group related feats than there are for bows. –  Joshua Aslan Smith Apr 18 '13 at 15:52
    
Great answer. I'd say that I consider it being dramatically weaker to also be a problem, though, as my question title asks. The body specifies abuses which was an oversight. How big a problem would the loss of crossbow-related options be? Do rogues have sufficient non-weapon based options that they won't miss them (even if bows don't get much similar support)? Or would something special have to be done for the bow-using Rogue? –  KRyan Apr 18 '13 at 18:39
    
@KRyan it's not a substantially weaker option. And adding the sharpshooter bonus mitigates that to some degree. I'll add a paragraph to that effect. –  wax eagle Apr 18 '13 at 18:40
    
You're also losing the Steady Shooter feat, which tends to be popular with crossbow sniper rogues. We actually had one who used a superior crossbow, stayed out at max range, and every round went like this: stand up from prone, attack, drop prone as a minor (he got CA from the feat that gives you CA against foes flanked by your allies, since the rest of party was all melee). –  Oblivious Sage Apr 18 '13 at 18:51
    
@ObliviousSage harder to acheive, but Sly Hunter does the same for bow users if they can get an isolated enemy (the bow expertise feat has a similar condition on it's damage bonus). –  wax eagle Apr 18 '13 at 18:58
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Maybe, the weapons have identical statistics, but I think the biggest abuse is that the type of magical arrows available are different/more than those available as bolts.

There are exactly 10 different kinds of magical bolts available whereas there are 28 different kinds of arrows. Bolts tend to focus on adding control effects to attacks against enemies or giving the PC some kind of movement or bonus. Arrows seem pretty focused on adding different damage types, more damage, and ongoing damage.

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I think it could be a source of all kinds of social problems, unless it is a rule since before character creation and is not requested by anyone.

Sentences like "Why did you gave avdantage to the archer? Why don't you give some advantage to me too?" become possible in such a situation (and can be avoided only with a bunch of mature players, which isn't always the case). And yeah I see it as a sort of (DM) abuse, even if that's not what you meant with your sentence.

That of course holds true of most rules that are not estabilished since the beginning. The easy way to deal with that is to ask if everybody is ok with the change and specifically say you're not gonna make other changes like this unless everyone at the table (including you) thinks it's ok to do.


As for the balancing issues, I see none.

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I'm not sure this is really an issue; if you make it clear that this is simply to make the character's desired fluff work, and that it's expected to have minimal or even negative impact on their mechanical viability, then I wouldn't expect this to be an issue. You just need to be willing to make similar fluff adjustments for other players. –  Oblivious Sage Apr 18 '13 at 17:46
    
If it's for fluff, just take a crossbow and fluff it as a bow. –  Zachiel Apr 18 '13 at 17:49
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I agree, that's a much simpler solution, but some people strongly object to that kind of refluffing, for reasons that have never been entirely clear to me. Assuming that kind of refluffing isn't an option, this question describes a solution that should be acceptable to most players. –  Oblivious Sage Apr 18 '13 at 17:52
    
If it's acceptable to everyone in the group and not used as an excuse to get something else frome the DM, camel's nose style, I'm completely ok with it. –  Zachiel Apr 18 '13 at 17:55
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@Zachiel Eh, it's for fluff, but it's fluff that maybe you want supported by mechanics: bow-based feats, whatever. The question definitely involves mechanics. The assumption was, however, that you were trading crossbow-based things for bow-based things and that on the face of it that should seem fair. But it often turns out that one or the other is dramatically better which causes "hidden" problems. It was identifying those hidden problems that was my concern. Yes, of course, I'd treat all players evenly when it comes to making these sorts of changes. I allow such things as a matter of course. –  KRyan Apr 18 '13 at 18:36
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