How does Archery / Arrow damage work?

So I’ve been using a long bow and making different arrows. My archery skill is 4. I am rather confused about the arrows and the damage.

The Wooden Arrow has a Damage 10, AP of 3, Range 7. A Heavy Fire-hardened Arrow has a Damage 5, AP 2, R 7. A sharpened metal arrow has Damage 5, AP 3, Range 5 and higher dispersion.

Why would I bother (from a meta view) to use any arrow other than wooden arrows?

Do metal arrows have some sort of property/utility that makes up for the massive damage/range drop?

There are several arrows that have “significantly sturdier” and “has a better chance to remain intact” making it seem like these would be a better choice than a wooden arrow, but by the numbers, they are not.

Am I missing something? I was able to make wooden arrows pretty early on, so I keep thinking these other arrows will be better, but they seem to be worse.

IMO it seems like it’s a lot easier to make 100 wooden arrows and just replace them instead of crafting other arrows that have a better chance to remain intact.


Once you have the resources to make whatever you want, whenever you want, of course you’re going to make the ones that do the most damage, even if they break more frequently. You’ll eat that extra torso encumbrance for the 60-arrow quiver and you’ll smile about it as your wooden arrows shatter in the bodies of your enemies because you can just run away and make more if you run out. In the early game, or when you just have to take what you can grab with you and scoot boot, I have personally found significant benefit in having tough arrows that I can pick up again and again while I’m using my superior mobility to kite my enemies around in circles. Let me tell you, it is an absolute pain in the ass to kill a Skeletal Juggernaut with a longbow, and I don’t think I would have made it happen with wooden arrows. A quiver full of heavy field-points and almost half a day’s worth of dancing around while I nicked him to pieces, picking up my arrows each time, did the trick well enough.

Point is, options. You have options for how to approach a situation. Maybe your character is a nomad who carries only what he needs with him and doesn’t waste space. That guy LOVES arrows that don’t break easy, arrows that he can reliably retrieve from a kill and use again, because maybe he won’t have the time or materials to make more, even if they don’t do as much damage.

Of course, once you have the capability to make metal broadheads, the entire point is moot. Best of all worlds, those sexy beasts are.

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Honestly @darktoes is the expert on all things archery in CDDA. He’s done a lot of the work on balancing and adding new things.

So I’m just gonna skip the middle man and summon him with three hawk feathers and a birch sapling.

EDIT: For my two cents. Metal arrows are strictly better. More damage, better range and accuracy, and breaks less than wooden ones. Plus I believe an all metal arrow is lighter than a heavy wooden arrow. I’ve never really found a use for plastic arrows.

You can make them with a single ingredient (plastic chunks), they don’t need glue to make, and they have almost twice the wooden arrow’s range (12 compared to 7) at a small sacrifice of damage and armor penetration (8/1 vs. 10/3).

Fire-hardened arrows are a cheaper version of a regular arrow – they don’t have a proper arrowhead, but just have the wooden tip hardened. In exchange you can make them with no archery skill, just a bit of fab and survival.
Sharpened metal arrows are like a hardier metal version of the fire-hardened wood arrow, where you’ve just ground the tip of the metal into something vaguely pointy.

The good arrows are the metal Target, Broadhead, and Bodkin arrows.

The point of some arrows is simply to fill a material niche when no other materials are available, or with the plastic arrows, to have a craftable arrow with simple sheer range.

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Hmm. I suppose that’s fair. I just always felt I had better uses for my supply of plastic chunks. Then again I usually do mostly wilderness style play.

There’s also the lesser consideration that different arrows have different skill requirements, and so provide experience at different levels. Fire-hardened wooden arrow gives eeps in Survival if your skill is less than 4, AND gives you arrows.

I think at least a year or two ago, before there were the metal bodkins and such I actually considered the plastic arrows to be the best in terms of range, accuracy and surprisingly recoverability.

I haven’t actually tried, but I thought the plastic arrows were the top of the “field arrow” tree for killing small food stuff.

EDIT: The flaming arrow is hands down the best arrow to kill the big’uns, for my money.

Arrows are wonky AF right now, but I have a PR waiting to be merged that sorts it out pretty nicely.

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That makes me feel a bit better–thanks!

Also, thank you all for chiming in.

I havent found any books beyond the novice bowyer book, but are there any arrows that have special effects? For example, I saw a Shock Zombie with a few regular zombies, so I shot each of the regular zombies with some metal arrows to see if they would take damage from the shocker, but nothing seemed to happen (other than normal damage). I shot the Shock Zombie with the metal arrows wondering if it would ground him or something, but other than normal damage.

Oh, are there any arrows that do bashing damage? The zombies (for the most part) are easy targets, but these damn cockroaches take quite a few arrows to kill.I assume its b/c they have a lot of armor.

As previously mentioned, I love these:

Nothing that does ranged bashing, AFAIK. Least, not for bows or crossbows. I dream of EMP arrow/grenades, but I know those aren’t realistic.

I’ve never really found a use for plastic arrows.

You can make them with a single ingredient (plastic chunks), they don’t need glue to make, and they have almost twice the wooden arrow’s range (12 compared to 7) at a small sacrifice of damage and armor penetration (8/1 vs. 10/3).

Their most defining quality is actually their weight. You can carry like 4 (?) times as much than metal arrows, allowing you to mow down packs without arrow recovery.

Why not? Just modify the range and the aoe. Makes sense to me.