The Symbaroum Advanced Player’s Guide (APG) includes a whole selection of optional mechanics in the Alternative Rules section. Some will work for you, some not. If you like simplicity, you may choose none at all; on the other hand, many groups like a bit of crunch.
One such optional rule, Reclaiming Bolts and Arrows, provides a way to add a bit of realism to range combat. Oftentimes, archers with high expertise can become veritable machine gunners if you don’t make them count every arrow – and breakage adds to their woes when in the wilds.
While the mechanic provided uses a 1d20 roll, I think you could handle the number of arrows and their state of repair by using 6-sided dice instead. You can pick up small 6-sided dice reasonably cheaply – or the players might want to provide their own.
There are three types of arrows and bolts covered:
- Projectiles of an ordinary standard, costing 1 thaler for 10 projectiles
- Projectiles with a Quality, costing at 1 thaler for 1 projectile (with a single Quality)
- Projectiles with mystical qualities, which more than likely come to a character in treasure or through enchantment of other projectiles by a mystic
I would suggest you set a dice colour for each type and have that many dice in the pool, showing the content of your quiver. A character might have more projectiles in their backpack, but those will need expenditure of an Active Action to retrieve (normally, it requires a Movement/Free Action to reload a Bolt/Arrow from a quiver, but the projectiles in a pack will be wrapped and stowed for safety and to avoid breakage).
When a character fires a projectile, the player should select the appropriate die – which in itself will declare the type used, making it easier for all to see when they use something with a Quality or mystical power – and set it aside from the quiver.
At the end of battle (or with the expenditure of Actions within a battle), they can retrieve any projectiles fired. At this point, they pick up all of the dice and roll them, checking the results, with reference to the type, to determine breakage. A projectile breaks on the following result with a 6-sided die:
- Ordinary: 4-6
- Quality: 5-6
- Mystical: 6
This actually leads to a slightly higher chance of losing a Quality arrow than the standard rule, but in a combat with dozens of arrows fired by multiple archers, it makes for a quicker system without simplifying it too much. You could just make a single roll for all of your arrows – but, where’s the fun in that?
In the heat of battle Karla’s skill with a bow means both many felled enemies and a bunch of arrows to reclaim afterwards. As her friend wipe the gore from their weapons, she scours the field for her projectiles.
Richard notes that he has fired a total of nine projectiles, including two Poisoned arrows and one imbued with a Holy Aura. He rolls nine dice and checks the results – then curses his misfortune with, perhaps, a small sigh of relief.
The dice show that four of the six ordinary arrows broke, one of the Poisoned arrows broke (as Quality projectiles), and Karla came all too close to losing the Mystical arrow, but scraped through.
Karla picks up the four intact arrows and returns them carefully to her quiver, noting the need to restock as soon as they reach the next settlement.
Quivers of Quality
While we’re talking about projectiles, it’s worth considering what you carry them around in. The detail about quivers doesn’t sit in one spot and you need to root around for some specifics.
A standard Quiver costs 1 shilling (core, pg 154) and holds 12 arrows or bolts (not stated, but based on characters Karla – core, pg 243 – and Keler – core, pg 247). A Quiver represents a single Item for purposes of Encumbrance (APG, pg 100).
In principle, you can have a Quiver with Qualities or mystical qualities if you choose and can afford it, just as you can can acquire unusual projectiles (APG, pg 112). As with all equipment, a specialised Quiver will cost 5 times the standard per Quality and may be far more expensive if you layer on mystical qualities.
The Robbers in The Promised Land (core, pg 248) all carry Concealed (APG, pg 118) Quivers. A Concealed Quiver holds half the projectiles it would normally carry, but cannot be spotted without a thorough search and a successful test against [Discreet←Vigilant].
A Quiver might also be Extended, which doubles the capacity (normally to 24 projectiles) while still only consuming a single item space for Encumbrance.
It can also be Orderly, which means that an archer can keep different kinds of arrows or bolts in the same quiver but access and reload without taking more time. An archer could keep mystical, poisoned, and other projectiles in the same Orderly quiver and always draw the correct one without taking more than a Movement/Free Action.
Without a specialised quiver, reloading takes a Combat/Movement action to draw a specific bolt/arrow from a mixed quiver – or a projectile can be pulled out at random. If drawn at random, you can see the value of using different coloured dice to represent projectiles. Stick them all in a bag and draw one out without looking.
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If you have any thoughts on the points made in this article or want to add something of your own, feel free to add a comment or post a response in The Iron Pact Forum.
Thanks to Lordxaras and Dadino for kicking off discussion about quivers on Slack.