Medieval and Fantasy Missile Weapons

by Dan Howard

Art by andi jones


This article is a general overview to be used in either a realistic or fantasy setting. Specific terms, such as "Japanese" or "Chinese," which relate to the real world have been replaced with the more generic terms, such as "Oriental." It should also be noted that the stats given for specific weapons correspond to those found in various GURPS sourcebooks, though some might disagree with how accurate those figures are.

References to "p. Bxx" refer to the GURPS Basic Set.

A Ranged weapon is any weapon that is used at a distance. This includes missile weapons, thrown weapons, siege engines and many types of hostile magic. There are several different types of ranged weapons, each with its own characteristics. This article deals only with missile weapons (including siege engines).

Missile weapons include bows, crossbows, slings, and blowpipes. Siege engines propel huge stones or darts at their targets. Their target could be either groups of men or stone fortifications.

Medieval and Fantasy Missile Weapons


The bow was almost certainly the earliest mechanical device to create greater speed in a projectile than could be attained by throwing it. It does this by accumulating energy in the bow limbs while pulling the bowstring back. This potential energy is stored temporarily while holding and aiming the bow. When the bow is released the potential energy is converted into kinetic energy in the form of the arrow's flight. The ST of the archer determines the range and damage of the arrow. Bows are constructed in three basic forms: a self-bow is made of one homogeneous piece of material; a built bow is made of joined pieces of the same material; and a composite bow is made of different materials.


It takes years of practice to become proficient with a bow. The technique involved in executing a shot can be explained in ten basic steps. With practice these will become one smooth, flowing motion:

1. Stance. Stand side on, with both feet shoulder-width apart, in a direct line with the target.
2. Fingers. Place the fingers so that the string is held with the index finger above the nock, and middle and ring finger under the nock; hook the string between first and second joint.
3. Bow hand. The pressure of the bow should be distributed along the pressure line; relax the fingers.
4. Bow arm. Bring the bow arm to shoulder height; the elbow of the bow arm is turned away from the string.
5. Drawing. The string is drawn along the bow arm in a straight horizontal line to the anchor point; stand straight up and relaxed; keep both shoulders as low as possible.
6. Anchoring. The string should touch the middle of the chin; the index finger is placed under the chin.
7. Holding. The back muscles are kept under tension; bow hand, draw hand and elbow should form a straight line.
8. Aiming. Done with the dominant eye; shut the other eye; keep the arrow a little left of the target.
9. Release. Keep pulling the shoulder blades towards each other, while relaxing the fingers of the draw hand.
10. Follow Through. The draw hand should be relaxed and near or behind the ear; keep aiming until after the arrow hits the target.


Arrowhead. The striking end of an arrow; usually made of a different material to the shaft such as iron, flint or bronze.
Back of the bow. The surface of the bow furthest from the archer when the bow is held in the firing position.
Belly of the bow. The surface of the bow closest to the archer when the bow is held in the firing position.
Built bow. A bow constructed from joined pieces of the same material.
Cock feather. The feather at right angles to the string position in the nock on three feathered arrows.
Composite bow. A bow constructed from laminated pieces of different materials.
Cresting. Identifying colored rings applied to the arrow shaft forward of the fletchings, used to mark ownership.
Draw. The act of bending the bow to full arrow length by drawing the string backward while holding the bow steady.
Feathers. The flights on the back of an arrow to aid in stability in flight.
Limb. One of the arms of a bow, from grip to tip.
Loose. The act of releasing the string of a bow to propel an arrow towards its target.
Nock. [1] (noun) the end of an arrow with a notch in it for the string. [2] (noun) the grooves in the tips of the limbs of the bow to fit the bowstring. [3] (verb) the act of fitting an arrow to the string.
Rankling arrow. An arrow with a detachable head that remains in the wound when the arrow is removed.
Self-bow. A bow made from one piece of wood.
Shaft or Stele. The body of an arrow.
String. [1] (noun) a bowstring. [2] (verb) to fit a bow with a string.

Types of Bows

Regular Bow. The standard bow (straight or recurve) is made from a single staff, or joined sections of pliable wood such as yew, maple, elm, ash, hickory, oak, birch, walnut, or cedar. The wood must be seasoned slowly and split rather than cut with a saw. The more the bow-stave follows the grain of the wood, the stronger it will be. The back of the bow should be the side that is closest to the outside of the tree or branch -- this is called the "sapwood," and is usually more elastic than the heartwood.

Tillering (shaving down the timber) is then done to ensure that the bow bends evenly, and at the required draw weight. Nocks are then cut into, or slid over, the ends of the staff.

Recurving involves bending the tips of the staff backward in a curve. If this is done while the wood is wet or hot, the wood will retain the curve when relaxed, thus making the bow flex more when drawn. This increases the power of the bow without increasing the drawlength. A thin elastic backing is then glued on, and the string is attached last.

Shorter recurve bows can be fired from horseback. The average bow weighs 2 lbs and costs $100.

Shortbow. A shorter version of the regular bow -- usually about half the height of the archer. It has a shorter range and inflicts less damage, but it is light and easy to use. It can be fired from horseback and is also easier to conceal. The average shortbow weighs 2 lbs and costs $50.

Longbow. The typical longbow is a little taller than the archer, and is made of the sap and center-wood (heartwood) of the yew tree. Yew is perfect for longbows -- the heartwood is able to withstand compression, its sapwood is elastic by nature, and both tend to return to their original straightness when the bow is released. Longbows are cheap and relatively easy to fashion. They are a little heavier than other bows and require a higher ST to use properly. Weight 3 lbs; Cost $200.

Composite bow. There are three layers in the composite bow: sinew on the back (the side under tension); wood for the core; and horn on the belly (the compression side facing the archer). Various hardwoods or bamboo can be used for the bow's core. If bamboo is used, the outer layer of a stem should face the horn.

Composite bow cores are made of several sections, roughly worked to shape before final assembly. First, a handle section joined to two arm sections. These are then joined to strongly reflexed tips, usually pieces with nock grooves at the ends, reinforced with a piece of horn. Fishtail splices and glue are used to join the various segments.

Pre-shaped horn strips then are glued onto the belly of the bow. Both horn and wood are scored with a special toothed tool and glued together (tight rope binding is used for clamping). Buffalo horn is highly preferred but longhorn (as in the cattle) can be used.

The back of the bow is then covered with sinew, leaving most of the tips bare. Sinew usually comes from the leg tendons of cattle, or wild animals such as deer and moose. The bow is then seasoned for at least six months, after which it is severely reflexed. This makes tillering and stringing a long and complicated process.

Composite bows are usually a little shorter than the archer and fairly heavy. When firing the composite bow, the central grip remains rigid throughout the draw. This contributes to a smooth action and greater accuracy. Releasing the bowstring of a composite bow produces no kick, which also assists in a smooth, more accurate shot. A well-trained archer with a good composite bow is a formidable foe indeed. Weight 4 lbs; Cost $900.

Hornbow. Shorter than the standard composite bow, the hornbow is designed to be fired from horseback. It is used extensively in horse cultures (probably due to the scarcity of good hardwoods rather than for any technological reason), and is more powerful than the typical shortbow. Arrows are released with a thumb and forefinger technique rather than the three-fingered style used with longer bows. The thumb is protected by a special thumb-ring. This technique takes longer to learn but results in a crisper release. Weight 3 lbs; Cost $500.

Dai-kyu. An Oriental composite longbow made of wood sandwiched between two pieces of fire-hardened bamboo, held together with glue and twine. It is asymmetrical, with two-thirds of its length rising above the archer's shoulder. This allows it to be fired from horseback unlike symmetrical longbows, which can only be used on foot. Weight 4 lbs; Cost $900.

Han-kyu. An Oriental half-bow designed to be concealed in the sleeve (+1 holdout). It has similar range and power to a shortbow. Weight 2 lbs; Cost $80. A small quiver, made of cloth, holds 12 arrows and can also be concealed in a loose sleeve.

Elven longbow. A composite longbow which is light yet extremely powerful. The methods used in its manufacture are similar to those of a normal composite bow, but the exact technique and materials used are known only to the Elves. It is very accurate and has unsurpassed range. Weight 3 lbs; Cost $40,000. Of course, Elves very rarely sell their prized bows, but they are occasionally presented as special gifts for services rendered.


Bow case. A protective slip-cover used to prevent the bow from warping. Costs $25 and weighs 1 lb.

Bowstring. Soft, sinew strings fray easily and must be replaced often. An attack roll that misses by more than 5 can represent a broken bowstring if it had not been changed recently. Each string costs $5; weight negligible. It takes 2 seconds and a ST roll for a standing person to change bowstrings, if the replacement is already in hand. A person on horseback would need 4 seconds; a ST+2 roll and a DX roll are required.

Flax and other hemp fibers can also be used for bowstrings. These strings last much longer but cost $15 each. They will only break on a critical miss.

Bracer. An archer's leather arm-bracer gives the off-hand arm (area 6) DR 1 but does not affect PD. It protects against snapping bowstrings, and subtracts its DR from any damage caused by a critical failure with a bow. Cost $8; weight 0.3 lbs.

Bowtip. Bows can be designed with a pointed end to be used as a spear in an emergency. This only applies to regular bows, longbows and dai-kyu. A bow designed to take this sort of punishment is not likely to be damaged on any individual thrust, but if it is used repeatedly, it will probably be damaged. Roll 3d for each time the bow is used to thrust or parry; on a 16 or more, it is no longer useful as a bow. If it is parried by a sword it is ruined on a roll of 12 or more. Add 20% to the cost of a bow with this feature. It cannot be added later, it must be incorporated when the bow is first constructed.

Extra-powerful bows. A skilled archer can use a bow that requires more than one man to string. This only applies to longbows, composite bows, dai-kyu, and Elven longbows. The maximum is a seven-man bow. These bows have special costs and minimum ST. Their Damage amount and Range is also increased.

BowDam.  Range inc.  Cost.Weight.  Min. ST
2-man+1+1x 1.2  +0 lb.12
3-man+2+3x 1.5+0 lb.14
4-man+3+5x 2+1 lb.16
5-man+4+7x 3+1 lb.18
6-man+5+9x 4+2 lb.21
7-man   +6+11x 5+2 lb.25

When readying these bows, it takes longer to draw them if your ST is below the ST of the bow. For every 2 points of ST above your own, add an extra turn to ready. For example, a character with ST 14 is using a 6-man bow with ST 21. It takes one turn to select and ready an arrow (2 if there are multiple arrow types in the quiver). It takes an additional turn plus 3 more to nock and draw the arrow (a total of 4 turns spent drawing the bow). On the next (6th) turn he can aim or fire. Using a bow with a ST of 4+ higher than the character's also expends 1 point of Fatigue (ST), making the next shot more difficult . . .

Medieval and Fantasy Missile Weapons


In a crossbow, the bow is shorter, and horizontally mounted in a stock (tiller), which is aimed and fired much like a rifle. Because of its mechanical advantage, the crossbow permits smaller men to fire at greater ranges. Unlike bows, the range and damage is determined by the crossbow's ST, not the archer's. The disadvantage is that crossbows take longer to reload than bows. See p. B114 for rules on cocking a crossbow. A typical crossbow weighs 6 lbs and costs $150.

Types of Crossbows

Pistol crossbow. This light one-handed weapon cannot have a ST above 5 and requires small, custom-made bolts. It weighs 4 lbs and cost $150.

Chu-Ko-Nu. This famous Oriental repeating crossbow contains a magazine of 10 bolts over the stock, with an automatic loading mechanism. It is heavier than a standard crossbow and has a poorer range. Warriors sometimes use them to "hose down" underbrush or light fortifications before entering them. Cannot have a ST above 9; weight 10 lbs; cost $500. The only medieval weapon with a Recoil value (-2).

Dwarven crossbow. This could be treated as a small ballista. It is the heaviest of crossbows with a long range and huge damage potential. They are heavy and bulky, perfect for Dwarves, who use them with ease. Humans have more difficulty and find them almost impossible to reload without mechanical assistance. Weight 12 lbs; cost $6,000.

Prod. Looks very similar to a standard crossbow except it is designed to fire pellets rather than bolts. It is less accurate than a normal crossbow but ammo is cheap. Weight 6 lbs; cost $150.


Goat's foot. A device for cocking crossbows of ST 3 or 4 greater than the character's. It takes 20 seconds to cock a crossbow with this device, plus an extra turn to place the bolt on the bow. Weight 2 lbs, Cost $50. For crossbows with ST greater than 4 more than the character, some sort of windlass is required. It takes 60 seconds to cock a crossbow with this device. Weight 3 lbs; cost $200.

Crossbow sight. This crosshairs device adds +2 to accuracy. Only expert bowyers and fletchers know about these devices. Someone with the Armoury skill and a specialization in bows must make an Armoury roll at -3 to install one. They are fragile; any damage done to the bow will result in the sight being misaligned (another Armoury roll at -3 to fix) or destroyed. Weight negligible; cost $10.


A very simple device used to propel stones or pellets at a target. It consists of two lengths of cord with a piece of soft leather in the middle. The stone is placed in the sling, and it is swung above the head to increase velocity. One end of the cord is then released and the projectile flies towards its target. The most famous use of a sling is in the story of David and Goliath. As with most missile weapons, the user's ST determines the range and damage, but swinging damage is used instead of thrusting. Weight 1/2 lb; cost $10.

Staff sling. Very similar to a standard sling except the levering action of a staff is used to increase the range and damage. Weight 2 lbs; cost $20.


A long length of cane or reed, hollowed out and polished. It fires small darts which cannot pierce normal clothing except on a critical success, and never penetrates padded cloth or better armor. These darts are smeared with poison, which takes effect if the dart hits flesh or light clothing. The darts can be anything from slivers of metal to long thorns. Modifiers: -2 and up for wind, if outdoors. A good blowpipe can cost $30, can be anywhere up to 10 feet in length, and weighs 1 lb. Darts cost $1 each.


The skill of making arrows and bolts. A Fletcher makes arrows; a person who makes bows is called a Bowyer. These skills are covered under the same Armoury skill (p. B53) by specializing in bows and arrows. At TL5 or lower, specialization is not compulsory. A skilled fletcher will be able to make an arrow from any available materials, including wood, metal, feathers, twine, glue, paper, etc. Specialized types of arrows may also be crafted, such as hunting or armor-piercing arrows.

A successful roll creates a single arrow. Each arrow takes 1 hour to make, minus 10 minutes per point by which the roll was made (minimum 10 minutes). For example, If the Armoury roll was made by 3, then the arrow would have taken 30 minutes to finish. This assumes that specialized arrowheads have been crafted beforehand. A good fletcher with the proper equipment can turn out six arrows an hour.

If the roll is failed, then the arrow is still usable; but reduce its effective range by 20% and accuracy by 1 for every point by which the skill roll was failed (failure by 5 or more means that the arrow is useless). A critical success could result in an increased range (add 20%) for that particular arrow. Critical failure would result in the materials being destroyed.

If keeping track of individual arrows is too much paperwork then discard all arrows that fail the Armory roll -- the materials can be reused in the next arrow.

Modifiers to the fletching roll could include:
in the field with the proper tools and materials necessary: +0
a fully equipped workshop stocked with proper materials: +2
improvised materials: -2 to -8
inadequate or improvised tools: -1 to -4


A missile weapon is not much use without some sort of missile to fire. There are three main types of ammunition: arrows for bows; bolts or quarrels for crossbows; and pellets or shot for slings and prods.

Arrows and Bolts

Ammunition for bows and crossbows. Arrows consist of three parts: the arrowhead; the stele (shaft); and the fletching (feathers). The shafts are usually made of wood such as ash, birch, or oak. The heads are sharp metallic wedges, and the flights are made from feathers to increase stability and accuracy. The length of the arrow/bolt depends on the size of the bow. Arrows are usually much longer than bolts. An arrow weighs 2 oz.; a crossbow bolt weighs 1 oz.; and they all cost $2 each.

Pellets, shot. Ammunition for slings and prods. The most preferred material for pellets is lead shot, but stones can be used in an emergency (reduce effective range by 20% and accuracy by -2). The average weight of a pellet is 1 oz. and cost is $0.10.

Different types of arrowheads can be fitted to arrows or bolts. Cost is the same for both types of ammunition.

Fire-hardened tip. No head. Only good for hunting. It does crushing damage rather than impaling. Against DR 2 or better, it shatters on impact. It is not as well balanced as a tipped arrow so the effective range is reduced by 20% and accuracy is at -1. Cost $0.50.
Blunt. For target practice, small game, and possibly to stun and take prisoners. They are treated as normal arrows, except they do crushing damage instead of impaling.
Bone or flint. Only good for hunting and against light armor. Against DR 3 or better, it shatters on impact. Cost $1.
Standard. Normal steel, wedge-shaped broadhead. A general purpose hunting and war arrowhead. Cost $2.
Leaf-head. Fitted with a broader, barbed head to inflict more damage. It does cutting damage rather than impaling. Sometimes called a "bowel-raker" because its barbed head inflicts extra damage, 1d-3 hits (min. 1), upon removal, unless a successful surgery roll (p. B56) is made. Accuracy is -1 and both 1/2D and Max ranges are reduced by STx5, due to the poor aerodynamics. Cost $3.
Armor-piercer. Called a bodkin, it is a four-sided, narrow, spiked head designed to punch through heavy armor. They are sometimes waxed to assist in penetration. DR of armor is -2 against a bodkin point. Wounding damage done by the arrow -- after DR is penetrated and impaling damage doubled -- is also -2.
Flesh-cutter (watakusi). It spins as it leaves the bowstring and burrows into unprotected flesh. It is particularly ineffective against armored targets, though. +2 damage against DR 2 or less; -2 damage against DR 3 or more. Cost $4; weight 3 oz.
Frog-crotch (karimata). Used to demonstrate the precision of the archer's aim. The head forms a U-shaped cutting blade. It is designed to cut ropes and cords. To cut a rope, use the rules for attacking inanimate objects (p. B125) and consult the tables on p. B201. Ropes are always very hard targets (at least -6). When using this arrow to attack a living target. it inflicts cutting damage rather than impaling. 1/2D and Max ranges are reduced by STx5. Max damage to a human target is 1d-3. Weight 4 oz. Cost $10.
Flaming arrow. Made by wrapping oil- or fat-soaked cloth or grasses around the shaft just behind the arrowhead. They are -2 to skill. A flaming arrow does ordinary damage plus 1 point for the flame. The chance of the flame spreading depends on what the arrow strikes (see pp. B129-130).
Turnip head. A signal arrow, sometimes called a "humming bulb." The head is made of hollow, carved wood, and the shaft is also is hollow with holes drilled along its length. When fired, it emits a loud humming or whistling noise that can be heard up to a mile away. It can be filled with oil-soaked cloth or straw and used as a fire-arrow. Accuracy is reduced by 1 and both 1/2D and Max ranges are reduced by STx5. Maximum damage is 1d-3 crushing.

Selecting Arrows

If more than one type of arrow is in the same quiver, it takes an extra turn and an IQ roll to ready the right arrow. If the arrows are distinguished by markings or colored feathers then this roll is made at +5 -- if you can see them. A failed roll means that you are momentarily confused and no arrow is selected at all. A critical failure means that the wrong arrow is selected (another IQ roll must be made at +5 to realize this before firing). Fastdraw can be used but the arrow cannot be chosen. A successful roll means an arrow is selected at random.


Any arrow that does not embed itself into a soft target (leather, flesh, thin/soft wood, etc.) upon impact stands a good chance of breaking. Any arrow that hits a target but inflicts negative damage (after subtracting DR) is considered to have bounced off (damage of exactly 0 will leave the arrow embedded in the target). Arrows that miss by less than the PD have glanced off the armor and may hit something behind the target (see p. B117). If the arrow bounced off the new target it will also have a chance of breaking. To check for breakage roll 3d. On a 12-15, the arrow has broken but the pieces may be recovered. On a 16-18, the arrow has shattered and fragments are lost (including the arrowhead). Crossbow bolts only break on a 13-15, but still shatter on a roll of 16-18. Special materials can reduce the chance of breakage (very hard arrowheads will always be recoverable even if the missile shatters).


Soft metals. Bronze and iron can be used for arrowheads, but they bend on impact and inflict crushing damage against DR 4 or more instead of impaling damage. These materials cannot be used for armor-piercing arrowheads (bodkins).

Exotic timber. Special woods can be used in arrow construction. They are either unusually light (increasing range) or very resilient (decreasing the chance of breakage), or both.

Exotic timber can also be used in bow construction. They will always be self-bows. Treat as a longbow that weighs less (perhaps a lower minimum ST), or has a greater range, and increase the cost appropriately.

Silver. This is rumored to be especially effective against demons, undead, were-creatures, etc. Silver weapons cost 20 times the price of normal weapons (assuming they are available) but break as if they were Cheap quality.

Dwarven steel. An alloy of iron, carbon and titanium, Dwarven steel is extremely tough and perfect for armor piercing arrowheads. Against DR 4 or better, a bodkin inflicts +2 damage. They cost 40 times more than a standard armor-piercer.

Dwarven bolts. This crossbow bolt is made entirely of steel -- except for the feathers, which have to be large to stabilize the heavy missile. The shaft is of light, hollow steel and the arrowhead is of heavier Dwarven steel. It inflicts +1 damage on all armor types and will not break. Each bolt weighs 1/2 lb, costs $120, and can only be used in the heaviest of crossbows -- ST 11 or more.

Elven steel. This special alloy has been forged and tempered using secret techniques known only to the elves. It usually weighs about the same as normal steel but it is as tough as heavy steel. Only elves know how to work with this material and they only make one type of arrow. Elven arrows. Elves have a reputation for being consummate archers. Their arrows are of exceptional quality and craftsmanship. Their superb range and accuracy can be attributed to many factors: the head is longer and more streamlined than that of a standard arrow; the shaft is not cylindrical but barreled (tapering from the middle to the ends), is exceptionally straight , and markedly resilient; the nock is light and elegantly shaped; and the feathers are stiff and very thin. All Elven arrows add +1 to accuracy; add 30% to the effective range of the bow (exceptional arrows add 50%!); and inflict +1 damage against all types of armor. Elves only make one type of arrowhead -- but it is fashioned from Elven steel rather than normal steel. Their arrows cost $400 each and are occasionally traded for hard-to-get items (like exotic wine and precious metals). Elven arrows only break on a roll of 14-17 and rarely shatter (roll of 18 only).

Mithril. A wondrous (some say enchanted) metal, stronger than the heaviest steel but only a fraction of its weight. It can be found only in areas of high mana, and only then if the conditions are right. Mithril is perfect for arrowheads, being both light and tough. All types of arrowheads can be fashioned from mithril. Add 20% to the effective range, +1 to accuracy, and +2 to damage. For example, an Elven arrow with a mithril head would add 50% to the effective range, +2 to accuracy, and inflict +3 damage to any armor type. An arrow with a mithril tip costs 100,000 times that of an arrow with a tip of steel -- if they are available for sale (not bloody likely).

Siege Engines


Ballistae are available at TL3. These are large crossbows of various sizes. They require a crew of more than one person to load and handle them and smaller ones are sometimes used in the field. They fire large, heavy darts and are most effective against massed groups of men. The Gunner skill (p. B50) is required to operate any siege engine. The minimum ST rating is the total strength of the crew needed to properly man the engine and keep it firing at its normal rate. For example, a ballista with a min. ST of 50 needs five men with an average ST of 10 each to operate the weapon. Any less than this and the weapon can be fired but it cannot be reloaded.

Sangmiau. This Oriental ballista is fired from the shoulder. The gunner needs two assistants and 5 seconds, or a windlass and 20 seconds, to cock it. Weight 16 lbs; cost $300; min. ST 16.

Arcuballista. This huge crossbow can be loaded with up to 10 bolts at once and can hit multiple targets up to 1,000 yards away. It requires only one operator, but once assembled it cannot be moved. It inflicts 3d impaling damage. Note that the gunner can only use his skill against one target. The other bolts hit random targets on a flat 9 (see p. B117). The arcuballista is most effective mounted on fortifications against a besieging army (lots of targets!). Weight 100 lbs; cost $1,000; min. ST 16.

Scorpion. This light ballista can be carried by one man, but requires a crew of two to operate. It is mounted on the ground and inflicts 3d impaling damage. Weight 25 lbs; cost $500; min. ST 20.

Medium ballista. Sometimes carried on horseback and set on the battlefield for long-range fire, but is usually only used in fixed positions: in fortifications, during sieges, and on ships. They require a crew of three or four and inflict 6d impaling damage. Weight 60 lbs; cost $900; min. ST 40.

Heavy ballista. Too large to move long distances. They are always constructed on-site during sieges and are crewed by at least six men. It inflicts 8d impaling damage. Weight 120 lbs; cost $1,500; min. ST 60.

Other Siege Weapons

When striking fortifications, consult p. B125 for rules on attacking inanimate objects. For exceptionally thick stone walls, simply add 200 hit points for every 1 foot of thickness over 12". For example, a 3-foot thick stone wall has 580 hit points.

Catapults. TL2. These weapons usually fire rocks weighing from 10 to 600 pounds. They are always crewed by at least six men. Damage is 6dx9 for a 10-pound stone. For every 14 pounds over 10 (maximum 600), add 1 to the multiplier.

Trebuchet. TL2. Instead of flinging stones into walls like a catapult, a trebuchet uses a cantilevered weight to lob stones over walls. It is capable of hurling boulders of up to 100 pounds and its payload can be any shape. It requires a crew of at least 10 men and it cannot fire at targets closer than 200 yards.

Battering Ram. TL2. While not a missile weapon, it is a common siege weapon and so is listed here. It is a heavy wooden beam used to knock down walls and gates. The simplest ones are trimmed tree trunks, and are used against gates. Others rest on a sling, have a huge metal head, and require up to 200 men to swing. A simple wooden beam does thrust damage equivalent to 1/4 the total ST of the men wielding it (1/2 ST if the ram has a metal head; wooden beams cannot be used against stone walls without a metal head). A sling ram uses 2/3 of the ST of the men using it. A 200-man sling ram does 14d crushing damage every time it strikes!

Medieval / Fantasy Missile Weapon Table

Malf. The die roll on which a weapon jams. A gunner may restore the weapon in 2d seconds by making a Gunner roll. Note that the GM rolls all dice and does not reveal how long repairs will take until they are complete. A critical failure breaks the weapon; only an Armourer can fix it.
Type. The type of damage a weapon does.
Dam. The number of dice of damage the weapon does.
SS. The snap-shot number, which is the final to-hit number needed to avoid a snap-shot penalty of -4 with the weapon.
Acc. The accuracy modifier of the weapon; see p. B115.
1/2Dam. The range at which the accuracy modifier drops to zero and damage is halved; see p. B117.
Max. The maximum range of the weapon in yards.
Wt. The weight of the loaded weapon in pounds.
Cost. The price to purchase the weapon.
RoF. Rate of Fire; see p. B208.
Shots. The number of shots the weapon holds.
ST. The minimum ST necessary to avoid additional turns readying the weapon after it is fired.

WeaponMalfTypeDam.SS Acc1/2DamMaxWtCost RoFShotsSTSpecial Notes
BOW (DX-6) 2 hands to fire. 2 turns to ready
Short bowcrit.imp.thr121STx10STx152$50=17* Max. dam. 1d+3.
Han-kyucrit.imp.thr121STx10STx152$80=17* Max. dam. 1d+3.
Regular bowcrit.imp.thr+1132STx15STx202$100=110* Max. dam. 1d+4.
Longbowcrit.imp.thr+2153STx15STx203$200=111* Max. dam. 1d+4.
Dai-kyucrit.imp.thr+3143STx20STx254$900=110* Max. dam. 1d+4.
Hornbowcrit.imp.thr+2123STx15STx203$500=19* Max. dam. 1d+4.
Composite bowcrit.imp.thr+3143STx20STx254$900=110* Max. dam. 1d+4.
Elven longbowcrit.imp.thr+4144STx25STx303$40,000=110* Max. dam. 1d+4.
CROSSBOW (DX-4) 2 hands to fire. Four turns to ready (eight if ST is greater than yours)
Pistol crossbow16imp.thr+255STx15STx204$150#17Max. ST 5.
Prod16cr.thr+4122STx20STx256$150#17fires lead pellets.
Crossbow16imp.thr+4124STx20STx256$150#17* Max. dam. 3d.
Chu-Ko-Nu14imp.thr+2103STx15STx2010$5001109Max ST 9.
Dwarven crossbowcrit.imp.thr+5125STx25STx3012$6,000#112* Max. dam. 3d+2.
SLING (DX-6) 2 hands to load. 1 hand to fire. 2 turns to ready.$10=1-Fires rocks.
Staff$20=1-Fires rocks.
Blowpipecrit.special (p. B49)101-STx41$30=1-See p. B49.
BALLISTA Gunnery (DX-5)
Sangmiau16imp.3d14440050016$3001/20116Can be reloaded in 5 secs.
Medium ballistacrit.imp.6d15440050060$9001/120140 
Heavy ballistacrit.imp.8d154400500120$1,5001/120160 
SIEGE ENGINE Gunnery (DX-5),0001,500900$8001/2401-load up to 100 lbs.$2,0001/3001-load up to 600 lbs.
* Max. damage does not include extra damage inflicted from special arrows or extra powerful bows.
= see p. B104 for reloading a weapon -- usually 1/3 unless attacker is Aiming.
# See p. B114 for Rate of Fire for crossbows.

References: GURPS Basic Set (3rd edition), GURPS Imperial Rome, GURPS Japan, GURPS China, GURPS Horseclans.

Article publication date: October 15, 1999

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