What pops in your head when you hear the word sling, as a weapon I mean? Well, this...
...isn't it. That a slingshot
, a relatively modern almost toy-like "weapon", with an effective range of 25 yards/75 feet and lethal enough for hunting small-game
. There are special modifications that can let you shoot an arrow, making slingshots suitable for hunting medium-game, like smaller deer, but still at an effective range of 25 yards. Now this...
...are slings. Just a rope or cord made into two retention cords with a pouch in the middle, with some leather, cloth, or in modern times, electrical tape, linings on both ends to make it easier to use. This makes slings relatively cheap and easy to manufacture, and gives them negligible weight, at least individually. This
video on the Balearic Slingers, by Invicta, goes into further details on slings and their ammunition. As the video says, while slingers would prefer bullets made from cast-lead, or at least kiln-fired clay, but small, smooth, oval-shaped stones could suffice, and would be strong enough to break bones, crack skulls and rupture internal organs through ancient armor, penetrate remarkably far through unarmored bodies, and of course, dent
the armor. This is on top of sling having, a real world, top range of 400 meters or approximately 1,312 feet or about 437 yards and a top speed of 100 km/h or about 62 miles per hour. Now that's not really possible in standard 3.5, or any D&D, not at low levels at least, so I'm thinking of basing projectile weapon range off of spell ranges. So, let's put slings at long range, the farthest reasonable range for spells in 3.5/Pathfinder. Still not realistically
long, but it's a start, and I have an idea for that. In 2e AD&D and older, spells and missile weapons had their ranges changed from feet to yards
outdoors, giving the humble sling a range of 400 yards + 40 yards/level, for 440 yards or 1,320 feet at first level. We are trying to be realistic here, and the top range on a sling is 400 or approximately 1,312 feet, which is in the neighborhood of 1,320 feet and well within the capabilities of a first level sling user under these rules.
That said, there are some catches with slings. First, they require years of training to be competent with, more so than even a longbow, and that one requires a good deal of strength training. Second, slings need a lot of room to be swung, so no tight formations, which shouldn't be much of a problem for PCs, who start out more like fantasy special forces than normal soldiers. Third, since you have to take time to load, swing, and then throw the rock/bullet, it takes you more time to shoot a rock or bullet than it does for an archer to shoot, meaning that if they're good enough they can keep shooting and shooting faster than you. Fourth and finally, a sling stone/bullet can't fit through a narrow crack or gap like an arrow. Still a damn good weapon though.
"Isn't that just like a philistine? Brings a sword to a sling fight."
An archer's primary weapons were their bow and arrows, or crossbow and bolts in the case of a crossbowman. Despite the differences between them, bows and crossbows do have some commonalities, namely draw weight and arrowheads. In simple terms, draw weight is the measurement, in pounds, of both the force needed to pull the bow's limbs as far as they can be pulled and the kinetic energy from the limbs snapping forward after the nocked arrow is loosed. Interestingly enough, there are two main methods of doing this in Europe. One is the better known drawing the bow
, where the archer nocks the arrow and pulls the bowstring back to in front their ear before loosing the arrow. The lesser known bending the bow
involves holding the nocked arrow in front of your ear while using your non-dominant hand to push or "bend" the bow staff away from you. Both are done until you reach full draw. As for arrowheads
had broadheads for causing aggravated injuries, crescent moon or fishtail heads for taking down large animals, incendiary arrows for lighting flammable materials on fire and bodkin points
to be more aerodynamic and pierce through chain armor. That and bodkins were cheaper and easier to make. An arrow loosed from a longbow can reach a maximum effective distance of 200 meters or about 656 feet and a crossbow, depending on draw weight and bolt mass, can shoot for 260 yards or 780 feet. While he doesn't get quite that far in this video
, Tod of Tod's Workshop does manage to shoot a crossbow to 238 yards with an 850 lbs. draw weight crossbow, which is still impressive. According to the Pathfinder stats for light (lower draw weight) and heavy (higher draw weight) crossbow are 80 and 120, respectively, with ten range increments. This means a light crossbow tops out at 800 feet and a heavy crossbow at 1,200 feet, with a total attack penalty of -20 for both. That said, most real-world military archers were volley archers, you just got them into one mass and had them shoot at the enemy mass. But even starting characters in D&D aren't comparable to standard troops.
What happened if an archer ran out of arrows, or their enemies close into melee range? Well, they had backup
weapons, as well as various pieces of headgear
. Archer's picks, bearded hand axes with flat heads on the back to drive that big pointy knife into the gaps of an armored foes armor, bollock daggers, poniards, falchions and one-handed bill hooks for pulling down knights or gutting horses. As for the headgear, it starts at sheepskin, goes on to boiled (hardened) leather, then various caps and hats, to actual metal helmets. Of course, these are the weapons and armor of a typical volley archer, not necessarily a PC grade sharpshooter archer, not that a PC grade archer couldn't benefit from such gear. Of course, those are just the loadouts for a Medieval English commoner
, on the other hand, were aristocratic archers
first, then spearman at polearm range and swordsmen third. Weras English longbowmen were trained for distance and used for massed volleys, samurai were trained more for accuracy and on top of that they were mounted
archers, allowing them easier and greater range of movement. Depending on the era, and preferences of the samurai, their armor consisted of lamellar such as o-yoroi
Armor: it's what you wear to keep your enemies from killing you, or at least make them work at it. While in 3.5 D&D and newer, armor is divided into light, medium and heavy groups, I feel it makes more sense to group armor by construction type, soft, medium and rigid. Starting with soft armor you have gambeson
and it's variants like linothorax
or myeonje baegab
. It wasn't until the 17th century that you had any real single layer leather armor, simply because they hadn't invented the process for making it and because gambeson already existed
, and was good enough for that role. As for the 17th century leather soft armor, that's called a buff coat
What I like to call medium armor is made up of segments of sturdy, rigid material, stitched, welded or riveted together. This would either form a mesh, like mail armor
, be shaped into a piece of armor with non-overlapping segments like a lamellar
, or a suit of overlapping segments, such as laminar
, mail and plate
, which is also talked about here
Rigid armor is just that, solid pieces of armor made from a single piece of some rigid material, whether it's boiled leather, iron, bronze, steel, or some stronger fantasy material. Unlike soft or medium armor, good rigid armor is never
flexible. It should allow for a good deal
around the joints and a decent range of motion
though, just that the actual armor pieces need to be rigid.