I’ve always liked archer characters. With the right build you can rain devastating attacks down on your enemies from relative safety. And after I saw Legolas slide down stairs on a shield and kick ass with his bow in Lord of the Rings, I knew my next character would pick up a bow again!
But with archers also comes a problem: there’s not a lot of diversity in combat. You shoot a couple of times each round, wait for the others to cast from their amazing array of spells or cleave their way through the battlefield, you shoot a couple of times, etc. Although you can describe your actions in the most epic way, you still have only a few real options.
I have some ideas for you.
8 spiced up arrows!
Most systems only give you two options: mundane and magic arrows. The first are dull, the second are heavily overpriced! So how about coming up with a set of interesting new mundane projectiles?
As always, work with your GM, because he/she needs to approve this. To appease your GM, the arrows below all have a downside to compensate for their extra use. Additionally, your GM can rule that finding vendors for such arrows is difficult and the prices may vary. In some cases the arrows could be illegal to buy or carry.
1. Armor piercing arrow
This arrow is especially vicious when it hits a heavily armored creature. It has a heavy sleek arrowhead, which expands after it pierces the armor. The arrow cannot easily be pulled out of the armor and continues to deal damage.
Because of the heavy tip and specific construction, the arrow’s range is halved and the attack suffers a -2 penalty. When it strikes an armored creature, it deals an extra 1d4 damage at the start of your turn until the arrow is removed. By spending a full round, a creature can remove all armor piercing arrows from itself or another creature.
Tinkering the mechanism is precision work. Cost: 10 gp / arrow.
2. Poison delivery arrow
This arrow is crafted with a small chamber and delivery system for poisons. If the delivery is successful, it makes the poison a bit harder to resist. Remember that applying the poison to the arrow carries its own risks to you!
The extra potency only works if the arrow hits the right spot. Attacks with this arrow suffer a -4 penalty. When it hits, the creature suffers a -1 penalty on its saving throw against the poison.
These arrows are generally illegal. Cost: 15 gp / arrow (excluding the poison).
3. Fountain arrow
The shaft of these arrows and the small leather skin at the tip are filled with water. On impact, the leather is pierced and the water is ejected. These arrows are commonly used to sniff out candles and torches at a distance. They lack enough water to douse larger fires.
The water makes the arrows strangely heavy, which halves the arrow’s range. The arrow deals no damage, but delivers the water accurately if it hits a solid surface near the flame.
Construction and waterproofing can only be done by delicate fingers. Cost: 1 gp / arrow (including the water).
4. Woodbiter arrow
The head of these arrows is specifically crafted to dig into any wood it hits. The shaft is crafted from especially sturdy wood which is hard to break. These arrows are commonly used to create ladder-like constructions, since normal arrows would come loose or break when stepped on.
These arrows function like normal arrows and deal normal damage to creatures.
Not a mass produced product. Cost: 0,5 gp / arrow.
5. Stonebiter arrow
The head of these arrows is specifically crafted to dig into any stone it hits. The shaft is crafted from especially sturdy wood which is hard to break. These arrows are commonly used to create ladder-like constructions, since normal arrows would break or come loose or break when stepped on.
Piercing stone is tough, so these arrows only successfully dig into a stone surface at half range. Aside from that, the arrows function like normal arrows and deal normal damage to creatures.
Not a mass produced product. Cost: 0,5 gp / arrow.
6. Whistling arrow
The tip and shaft of this arrow is hollow and specifically crafted to emit a high-pitched tone when fired. The pitch can be set by carving a hole in a specific place on the shaft. Pressing a piece of cotton wool into the shaft will delay the tone until the cotton is forced out of the shaft mid-flight. An experienced archer can mask the point of origin of the arrow or startle a creature by having the sound start when the arrow is very close.
The hollow and fragile nature of the arrow makes it difficult to use as a weapon. These arrows deal half damage and are always destroyed on impact.
Very delicate! Cost: 2 gp / arrow (including a wad of cotton wool, but excluding the knife needed to carve a hole in the shaft for the pitch).
7. Exploding arrow
Highly volatile and dangerous, these arrows are nothing to play with. The arrowhead explodes on impact, scorching everyone in a 5 feet radius around the impactsite.
The arrowhead is heavy and a bit unwieldy, which halves its effective range. Creatures in the explosion take 1d6 fire damage and 1d6 bludgeoning damage (DC 14 Dexterity saving throw for half damage). The blast can be heard from far and might attract attention (GM’s discretion).
Danger pay, and in most places illegal! Cost: 15 gp / arrow.
8. Blinding arrow
This arrow pierces a small pouch on impact, and propels the black dust inside into a 5 feet radius around the impactsite. The cloud of dust attaches to moist surfaces (such as eyes) and blinds everyone in the area, but otherwise falls harmlessly to the ground.
To properly create a cloud of dust, the arrow has no pointy end and deals no damage. Everyone within 5 feet of where the arrow impacted makes a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or be blinded for 2 rounds.
Tricky to make, trickier to test. Cost: 10 gp / arrow.
Would your archer use these arrows? Or do you have even more suggestions for arrows? Please leave a message below to let me know!