Are there rules for increasing the strength bonus of a composite bow after it has been made, and calculating the cost of such modification? For example, if a character has a composite longbow +2 and increases her strength to 16, is it then possible to modify it into a composite longbow +3 or must she instead get a new bow crafted? This obviously becomes especially relevant as powerful characters gain access to magic weapons that do not exactly match their strength bonuses.


2 Answers 2


Probably not. The maximum strength bonus of the composite longbow is part of the weapon's construction. The description suggests that this is an inherent property when the weapon is built. While we have information about how this value is determined when the weapon is made, there do not appear to be mechanics for improving this property.

All composite bows are made with a particular Strength rating... A composite longbow can be made with a high strength rating to take advantage of an above-average Strength score; this feature allows you to add your Strength bonus to damage, up to the maximum bonus indicated for the bow. Each point of Strength bonus granted by the bow adds 100 gp to its cost.

It's like creating a weapon with the masterwork property. Whether a weapon is considered masterwork is determined when the weapon is created. The masterwork property is inherent, and cannot be added later.

The composite shortbow has nearly identical text, and should follow the same rules.

If you want a rules-legal solution to add a higher strength modifier to your bow damage, then the Adaptive ranged weapon ability is your solution. Thanks to @Wayne for pointing this out.

Requirement: This ability can only be placed on composite bows.

An adaptive bow responds to the strength of its wielder, acting as a bow with a strength rating equal to its wielder’s Strength bonus. The wielder can fire it with a lesser Strength bonus (and cause less damage) if desired.

This improvement costs a flat +1000gp and someone who can craft magical weapons or add new magic abilities. The upgrade is worthwhile; you only need to pay once, it does not raise the weapon's effective enhancement bonus, and the damage automatically adjusts if the wielder increases their Strength score later.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Adaptive is particularly useful if you might receive temporary strength improvements such as Bull's Strength or Enlarge Person (although obviously Enlarge isn't the best option for an archer, it's an easy example) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 4, 2021 at 1:58

Correct, probably not per "game mechanics"...

But if you think about it, isn't it possible to modify a bow in real life? Can we add strips of metal or wood to the outside of it potentially to increase its pull? Can we add sights to it? Within reason, we can modify many things in real life.

It makes sense you might even be able to move an enchantment with the right spells and lab, I mean, if you can move a person across dimensions and planes, why can't you move a spell from one object to another on the same plane? With magic, we can even turn wood into Iron Wood, I imagine that might increase the strength modifier...

In roleplaying games we are only limited by our imagination, creativity, and by our DMs. Otherwise, we should probably be thinking more about playing video games than a tabletop. If it was my game, you could pay the additional cost to increase the strength of the bow or even pay the additional cost to Decrease the strength of the bow, but I wouldn't offer that to players right out of the gate, they need to be creative enough on their own to even think of it as a possibility.

As far as Adaptive is concerned, it sounds nice, and it lets anyone fire a bow or get Strength Buffs before firing the bow, but it isn't at the top of the list for magic I want on my bow.


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