Bows, Crossbows and Their Balance


Terminal ballistics of the two are very, very similar since both occupy a similar cross section area for their projectiles and both are going at speed to which a solid object reacts similarly (eg. not bullets). Older bolts used to be shorter but modern crossbows shoot pretty long bolts.

The major difference between the two in that area would be the weight and speed of the two, with crossbow bolts usually being near the end of heavy-er arrows, around 400-450* grains, but they can be heavier than that. The speed side of things has crossbows at a clear advantage, going in the 400-450 FPS range at the top of the scale when loaded with 400 grain bolts.


It gets complicated, but Doug’s handy spreadsheet (included with the issue) estimates about 1000 J of delivered energy for a 37", carbon fiber, 3 loop, compound crossbow with a 17" draw and a 950 lb draw weight firing a 0.4 lb bolt. For reference, that’s a little more energy than 10x25mm bullet.

Carbon fiber makes everything better - even the cruddy medieval design delivers a whomping 250J if you swap the steel bow for carbon fiber. Or even modern steel and a less cruddy arm design brings you to 170J, which is better than an actual English longbow. Still, that 750 lb draw weight means you’re going to reloading with a crank, and it’s not going to be a trivial task.


My 2 cents on the topic.

The only purpose the crossbow serves over a good bow, would be adding an bolt shot to my rifle for a silent kill without swapping my shooter.

I like having the options of normal crossbows. But a Bow will serve the marksman better. Add stamina loss to Bow usage and that would improve realism without gimping the game. It has been said before and I concur.

A slight arrow/bolt breakage would make sense though upon hard objects. Not sure how to code impact on hard objects though. So maybe the harder an object is. A scaled increase in how likely the arrow/bolt will break. If this has been mentioned previously, then I simply agree with the idea.


What i mean is that most firearms can be upgraded one step above standard, similar to how melee weapons are upgraded and colthes/armor are reinforced. But crossbows cannot gain this adventage. And it is usually huge. If i remember correctly, upgrading a firearm increases its accuarcy more than barell extension mod, and increases damage way more than barell extension mod, without ANY drawbacks.
And crossbows cant be upgraded, while PBD can, and compound bow can be upgraded.
On paper compound crossbow and PBD can seem to be relatively close in power level, slightly in favor of PBD, but in reality, when PBD is accuarized/upgraded, its wayy more superb. I would say every weapon in game should have an option for upgrading to maintain ballence, except very few items that cant be repaired (i think some bows made from bones)


Isn’t the main advantage of crossbows the ease of use? Maybe bows could be nerfed at lower skill levels and need some investment to be really useful.
Stamina cost for bow shooting would be nice too, even more if its based on player strenght.


Ah, an oversight on my part I’m afraid. I’ll make the compound/modern crossbow variants accurizable with the firearm kit when I get a chance.

Yes and no. Crossbows are far more powerful than bows and modern/weaker ones have comparable rates of fire. In medieval terms a crossbow is easier to use because you load it, point, and shoot, but accuracy isn’t a big concern when there are thousands of enemies to hit. Compared to bows where some decent skill is required just to get the thing to full draw. In Cataclysm circumstances where you likely want to hit a single enemy 50m away, it would require as much skill as, if not more, than firing a rifle.

Very common suggestion, I may even put in a Github issue sometime to see if someone feels like implementing it.


Is there no electric loading bow in reality?
When we are full of CBM, why do we have to use a muscle to drive a bow.


Not that I’m aware of. Somebody probably made an electric crossbow, but at that point you might as well just make a railgun or a pneumatic gun and hook it up to an air compressor.


What’s the point of a “greatbow”, exactly?
It has 18 min str if I’m reading this correctly, so can my super-strong by human standards (13 str) character use it more effectively that a long bow?


If you have 13 str you can’t use it at all. It has really high damage and is designed for mutant strength builds and cyborgs.


So basically it’s a super-niche weapon. I see.

Speaking off, composite crossbow seems a little off, too.
It has +3 extra damage over normal crossbow, but same or lower accuracy and easily about TWICE the reload speed for a character with modest (4-ish) rifle skill.

Most Z’s die from two hits from normal crossbow and composite, so composite seems like a slower way to get the same result most of the time.


Also, while we are at it:
isn’t it a bit weird that the character learns how to make bow mods naturally (i.e. without a book), learns how to make bows naturally, but for some reason can’t attach said mods to said bows?
I mean, how does that even work?
Character is making mods for some hypothetical bows he knows nothing about…?


Composite crossbow has a lot of extra range and only 20% extra reload time. If it takes twice as long then the reload calculation is derp and I need to look at it (I already needed to look at it). Accuracy IS lower, but shouldn’t be.

That said, composite crossbow is gonna get replaced anyway so eh.

Yes, it is, I must have missed that. I’ll put that on my todo list. The fact is most people have a pretty good idea what a basic bow looks like, but probably don’t know about the intricacies of a modern recurve or what mods are possible or how they’d work. So without any books if you get good at fabrication and good at archery you can work it out based on the general shape and how you think a bow should feel. More complicated things like recurved limbs or attachments points are harder, so they need to be book learned.


I’m pretty sure this has to do with the fact reload times are decreased by skill by an ABSOLUTE amount.
So with mid-tier skill both get, say, -300 moves to reload time.
That bring normal crossbow to, say, 120 moves reload, but composite stays at 210-ish reload.

Yea, my point it, a character should never know how to craft mods he can’t attach to ANYTHING he can potentially craft.


They’re 400 and 500, but I see your point. The equation is designed to work with the base crossbow on an old value, it’s something I need to redo.

Yeah, pretty much.


Frankly, current reload time formula is a mess, if it’s still something like:

The strength part is fine, but the skill part is pretty ridiculous. Skill influence should effectively stop an around skill 4-5 and should have diminishing returns over the curve.
Also, 25 moves min reload time? So you can reload 3 crossbows in the time it takes to swing a machete…?


By the way, I can probably try to re-write the reloading code if you tell we what .json to look in.


Videos of folks making crap but functional bows on youtube exist. They can make functional garbage bows and have no way of figuring out modifications to said crap bows. So makes sense to me knowing this.


I need to sit down and work out how everything is going to work together at some point, at this point fixing that is probably just going to cause me more issues later on.


I built a toy-scale electric repeating crossbow a while ago… From an engineering standpoint it’s stupid easy to modify any winch operated crossbow to have an autoloader. Much simpler than making a pneumatic gun and much better firepower to motor power ratio though will almost certainly lose in terms of rate of fire. The thing is people who use modern crossbows generally do so due to their reliability and if you add electronics to it they might as well use a gun.

The only “combat ready” electric crossbow that comes to mind is the one in half-life 2 but, that one uses electricity to heat up a piece of rebar before it gets stuck into someone rather than in an autoloader.