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Our warlock is level 8, and has a raven familiar. The raven scouted ahead and found some guards up on a hilltop fortress. It’s in the middle of the night, and the bows are left relatively unattended. What are the mechanics for the raven to stealthily snip the strings on the bow with its beak without being detected?

I’m looking for attack/damage/sunder/item hp/item hardness kind of answers.

Thanks!

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    \$\begingroup\$ A matter to consider is that a bowstring is under a decent amount of tension, even at rest. Cutting it will produce a quite noticeable snap. If the guards are even remotely close, the raven better act fast. \$\endgroup\$
    – Veskah
    Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 1:39

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Depends how you count it. It’s all in the standard rules.

A raven does 1d3-4 points of damage with its beak (1, in other words).

A “projectile weapon” is hardness 5 hp 5, so no go.

Rope is 0 hardness and 2 hp/inch of thickness, which means a bowstring should probably go in one peck, if the GM lets it be targeted separately. (Not clearly RAW.)

As a GM I’d allow it, but instead of the “bow having the broken condition blah blah” a quick string replacement would get it going again.

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What are the bowstrings made of? Traditional bowstrings were commonly composed of animal sinew, silk, hemp, rawhide, and other natural materials, while today’s bows feature strings made of engineered polymers, including Kevlar.

The 3.5e SRD lists object statistics, giving suggested AC and HP for various items.

  • Rope (presumably made of hemp or silk) has a hardness of 0 while hide has a hardness of 2 and steel has a hardness of 10. (Only damage in excess of an objects hardness is subtracted from its total HP—if you hit a rope or hide object with 5 HP of damage, it will take 5 HP of damage, while a steel object will take 0 HP of damage.)
  • The AC of an inanimate object is 3 + size modifier. A Fine-sized item (the thickness of a bowstring is easily less than 1" thick) has a size modifier of +8, so that's an AC of 11.
  • The rope has 2 HP per inch of thickness. If you are comparing a bowstring to a rope in order to calculate statistics for bowstring, a bowstring is easily less than an inch, so it stands to reason that a bowstring made of similar material would have 1 HP.
  • The attacks available to a raven listen in its stat block are limited to claw attacks that deal 1 HP of piercing/slashing damage. While according to the rules a raven doesn't attack with its beak and could attempt to cut a bowstring with its claws, your DM can let you know if the raven can attempt to use its beak to attack an object.
  • The SRD also states "Certain attacks are especially successful against some objects. In such cases, attacks deal double the normal damage and may ignore the object's hardness." It's entirely up to your DM to determine if this is applicable to the situation you describe.

Ultimately, as always, the answer is “whatever your DM says goes”. Consult your DM—hopefully he or she supports your creative ideas.

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