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Old November 29, 2009, 22:25   #1
fizzix
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slings, bows and ammo

I felt that the artifact thread was jacked on a discussion of slings and I think it should be moved elsewhere:

I'll try to summarize what suggestions I saw.

Magnate: I think the problem with slings is more fundamental than the absence of artifacts and the rarity of Buckland. There's just no real incentive for any class to use slings, when longbows do 50% more damage and have lighter ammo. Once in a thousand games you might find an early +2 might sling

Timo: Slings should have more powerful ammo. After all plate or ring mail might block arrow with no damage, but if you are hit by fast moving brick it hurts even if it doesn't kill. Also breaking sling ammo (especially metallic one) is nearly impossible, so one stack of very good ammo should last very long time, making good sling much more attractive.

Magnate: Buckland ego should be turned into an artifact: THE sling of Buckland, with +2 to might, shots, dex and (say) speed and hold life. Then we perhaps need a new sling ego that's like Lothlorien or Haradrim - powerful but not crazy. Something like a "sling of speed" with +2 shots, dex and speed, but no extra might.

Eddie: Sling ammo should be all over the dungeon, and the sling itself should sell for cheap. Price should not be just about value. For 1 AU you should have a launcher with essentially unlimited ammo. The problem with ammo everywhere is that you have to id it to know it is average to squelch it if you do not care to see it, but stones could be special cased if anyone agrees with me on this, until the world comes around to my view that "average" should be obvious on sight.

TJS: How's about giving warriors a bonus to slings as well/instead of rogues? I imagine the extra strength of a warrior would let him sling stuff faster. Wouldn't rogues be sneaky with a bow rather than carry and throw heavy rocks about?
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Old November 29, 2009, 22:46   #2
fizzix
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Here's my feedback:

Whoa...slow down. There's a reason that bows and crossbows replaced slings as weapons historically. They are much better weapons. They have better distance, are more deadly and way more accurate. A sling should be a launcher that lets you kill jellies from a distance in the first 10 levels. If you dive past the first 10 levels, then you should have no use for slings. Maybe ego slings should be fairly common and that could extend the life of the sling for a bit longer. When the bow was invented, the sling was obsolete. That should occur in Angband too.

Slings should be cheap. Sling ammo should be everywhere and should rarely break. Slings should have horrendous penalties on to-hit. They should also have fairly short range. 30-40 feet. (Get a sling and try throwing a decently heavy rock. See how far it goes. Also, do you think you could dodge that?...probably. Don't hurt yourself!) Mithril shots and Seeker shots should probably not even exist. If you had a lump of mithril, are you really going to waste it on sling ammo? That stuff is worth more than the entirety of the shire...

Some random thoughts. If we're going for reality, the following additions seems to be in order.

There should be a minimum strength required to use bows. Extra might means extra needed strength. Odysseus agrees.

Sling distance should scale with strength. Sling to-hit, to-dam (penalties) should scale with both STR and DEX. Bow and xbow to-hit (penalties) should scale with DEX. These penalties don't exist, but they should. It takes a steady hand to be an archer.

Larger distances should give to-hit penalties. I don't think they currently do. This should be calculated as a percentage of total distance. so a long bow at 40 ft is much more accurate than a short bow at 40 feet.

Slings should have medium to-dam penalties that scale with distance. Bows and xbows should have very minor, or no to-dam penalties that scale with distance. They don't lose much velocity at all due to air resistance. However, sling ammo has a much bigger cross-section and will slow down quite a bit towards the end of it's flight.

Remember, this scaling for distance should apply for monsters that hurl boulders or shoot arrows too.
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Old November 29, 2009, 23:05   #3
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Way too much realism. If slings are not going to be useful beyond level 10 or 20, we might as well get rid of them altogether. If you're going to introduce stat requirements for launchers (and associated penalties), you have to do the same for melee weapons, and then we're in ADoM territory. However, range penalties are an interesting idea for the rebalancing of archery. Especially if combined with point-blank penalties - e.g. a longbow has 100% damage at ranges between 3 and 6, but big penalties shooting both nearer and further.
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Old November 29, 2009, 23:20   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnate View Post
Way too much realism. If slings are not going to be useful beyond level 10 or 20, we might as well get rid of them altogether.
point taken. However, I still think that the top sling should be pretty inferior to a top bow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnate View Post
If you're going to introduce stat requirements for launchers (and associated penalties), you have to do the same for melee weapons, and then we're in ADoM territory.
I think this falls under the too much realism also. Melee weapons do scale with STR and DEX already with blows per turn and dam and to-hit bonuses tho.

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Originally Posted by Magnate View Post
However, range penalties are an interesting idea for the rebalancing of archery. Especially if combined with point-blank penalties - e.g. a longbow has 100% damage at ranges between 3 and 6, but big penalties shooting both nearer and further.
I'm not sure that there should be a point blank penalty. Maybe if the monster is next to you. But otherwise, what's the rationale?
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Old November 29, 2009, 23:21   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
I'm not sure that there should be a point blank penalty. Maybe if the monster is next to you. But otherwise, what's the rationale?
To balance archery with melee. Because there is one in D&D, which seems to matter in this game. Because you really didn't fire arrows at people when they were right next to you. I agree that it should only be a fairly short range for the penalty.
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Old November 29, 2009, 23:50   #6
Timo Pietilš
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Here's my feedback:

Whoa...slow down. There's a reason that bows and crossbows replaced slings as weapons historically. They are much better weapons. They have better distance, are more deadly and way more accurate. A sling should be a launcher that lets you kill jellies from a distance in the first 10 levels. If you dive past the first 10 levels, then you should have no use for slings. Maybe ego slings should be fairly common and that could extend the life of the sling for a bit longer. When the bow was invented, the sling was obsolete. That should occur in Angband too.
That isn't entirely true. There are more advanced sling designs than just leather pocket with couple of strings attached to it. Sling is slow and it has limited range, those are the drawbacks of the sling, not the damage it does. Heavy rock that moves with speed is a deadly weapon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Slings should be cheap. Sling ammo should be everywhere and should rarely break. Slings should have horrendous penalties on to-hit. They should also have fairly short range. 30-40 feet. (Get a sling and try throwing a decently heavy rock. See how far it goes. Also, do you think you could dodge that?...probably. Don't hurt yourself!)
Those shots are relatively fast. Dodging one at close distance is just as impossible as dodging arrow from bow. At longer distance it might be possible to dodge rock thrown from sling, but you still need to be aware of it coming and ready to dodge it. Sling certainly has bigger range than 40 feet (more like 400 feet, h*ll I can *throw* a slingshot-size rock more than 40 feet), but it would be amazing if you actually hit anything at long distance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Mithril shots and Seeker shots should probably not even exist. If you had a lump of mithril, are you really going to waste it on sling ammo? That stuff is worth more than the entirety of the shire...
That's probably true. Iron or even lead is better because damage is based on weight, not sharpness, so wasting mithril to one is not very smart thing to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Some random thoughts. If we're going for reality, the following additions seems to be in order.

There should be a minimum strength required to use bows. Extra might means extra needed strength. Odysseus agrees.
Depends how you interpret "might". That could just mean that it shoots arrows faster using less strength

Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Sling distance should scale with strength.
Not really. I would say quite opposite. Sling needs dex more than str. Bow needs str.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Sling to-hit, to-dam (penalties) should scale with both STR and DEX. Bow and xbow to-hit (penalties) should scale with DEX. These penalties don't exist, but they should. It takes a steady hand to be an archer.
That is why it needs STR. You need to be able to keep the string pulled back while aiming, and that requires STR as well as DEX.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Larger distances should give to-hit penalties. I don't think they currently do. This should be calculated as a percentage of total distance. so a long bow at 40 ft is much more accurate than a short bow at 40 feet.
I think distance does affect to_hit, but it doesn't affect damage, which it should also do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Slings should have medium to-dam penalties that scale with distance. Bows and xbows should have very minor, or no to-dam penalties that scale with distance. They don't lose much velocity at all due to air resistance. However, sling ammo has a much bigger cross-section and will slow down quite a bit towards the end of it's flight.
Air resistance is factor of cross-section and mass. Sling ammo is heavy. Arrow gets slowed down by its tail-feathers which cause quite a bit drag. Sling ammo doesn't really slow down much by air resistance, but because it has much slower initial velocity gravity brings it down faster. You just can't sling slingshot very far. If you could give it same initial velocity as arrow shot from longbow it would fly further, not shorter.

I'm not saying that sling is more effective than bow, but it certainly isn't that much worse.
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Old November 30, 2009, 00:59   #7
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Just a couple things to keep in mind when talking about tweaking the ranges of projectiles:

1) A properly utilized longbow could be expected to fire its ammunition a few hundred yards with reasonable accuracy. Certainly within 100 yards a trained archer can expect decent results (even moreso a fantasy character with epic stats). Heavy crossbows should have almost the same range, and probably greater accuracy at distance.

2) achieving any significant distance with a bow or sling will require a significant arc to the shot. Now, Angband dungeons seem capable of housing tremendously large creatures, so we know scale is a funny thing in 'bands. However, the practical distance at which a shot could be made will be limited by the height of an angband ceiling...

3) I have seen this mentioned before, but slings would really become useful if they were able to launch projectiles other than stones and shots. Oil, exploding potions, area-of-effect shells, light-emitting stones, etc
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Old November 30, 2009, 01:20   #8
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As far as "slings are inferior weapons" - sure, they should be inferior in normal similar-to-our-real-world scenarios, such as an ordinary +0+0 sling with an ordinary +0+0 pebble compared to an ordinary +0+0 longbow with ordinar +0+0 arrows. The longbow will be the more lethal weapon.

However, things can get interesting by means of fantasy magic and alchemy and whatnot. Ego-items and artifacts are, by definition, more powerful than a common, everyday version of the item. An artifact sling could be on par with an artifact bow not because an average sling is on par with an average bow, but because this particular sling is an artifact, and has some special magical qualities that make it regarded as an artifact as opposed to just any other old sling.

Why shouldn't seeker shots exist? To your argument about mithril and its value, that could go for arrows as well - why use such a valuable commodity for any ammunition that has a high chance of being lost? It takes less to make an arrowhead, granted, but it still seems exceedingly wasteful if you're taking mithril to be as valuable as it was in Tolkien's books.

I still think slings would be great candidates for having special ammo, rather than the slings themselves necessarily being special. Rocks and shots are bigger and sturdier than arrows, and perhaps could be better prepared (via fantasy magic/alchemy) to do things like explode and cause radius damage. Maybe because they're bigger and sturdier, they can hold, say, a chaos brand, while arrows/arrowheads are too flimsy/weak to hold the chaotic energies. Whatever. This is fantasy.
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Old November 30, 2009, 01:28   #9
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Ah, as to the issue of point-blank firing with a bow, I've always looked at it this way: If someone wielding a sword has gotten close enough to you to hit you with a melee blow, you're not going to be grabbing arrows and firing at them, you're going to be trying to get away or desperately parrying the blows with the bow itself. You don't have time to nock, aim and fire an arrow at something if it's in your face and hacking at you. You're going to be concentrated on evading or parrying. This is why you would either switch to a melee weapon or run instead of attempting to fire point-blank.

Point-blank shots really don't make sense unless you're point-blank firing at someone/something that isn't currently engaging you in melee combat. I could see it working fine on sleeping/fleeing foes, but an adjacent, attacking melee foe? No way.

I'm not saying things should be coded this way, but am explaining the logic (as far as I can tell) behind the concept of the difficulty of point-blank firing with a bow or sling. Crossbows could probably work point-blank, though at a great disadvantage compared to being far enough away to not be in immediate danger of a melee strike and therefore not needing to be parrying/blocking with the crossbow.
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Old November 30, 2009, 03:32   #10
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I'd rather see the short bow removed than the sling. For the sling, I like the ideas of cheap to acquire, early availability, and durable ammo. I think replacing a +2 ego sling of buckland with an identical artifact is a good idea. A to-hit penalty for adjacent targets might be in order for all ranged attacks, but I expect that would be part of re-balancing ranged damage, along with magic damage.

Realism doesn't necessarily make for good games, but here's an interesting read on the sling's viability:

http://www.chrisharrison.net/projects/sling/index.html

According to that source, a well-trained slinger could fire over 12 shots per minute (more than longbow men), and the sling had comparable range to the long bow, and probably a higher effective range. It had less penetrating power, but did considerable damage anyway, enough to break armor, wound, and kill. A sling is more effective when fired in a high arc, so its range would probably be limited by the dungeon ceiling, a problem bows would be able to more easily cope with (thus in the dungeon they would probably have superior range). A sling requires training and dexterity, but unlike the longbow, not a lot of strength.
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