Stygian bow vs hunting bow

It is stated that stygian bows are “devastating at close range” and “compact”. However, they have the same encumbrance as most other bows (2) and mediocre damage (3 cd). In fact they have the same stats as a hunting bow, just less available.

So, does the stygian bow have an advantage I failed to see or is it just a glorified hunting bow?

Yes, they do the same damage as a hunting bow but are smaller. As with a lot of 2d20 the advantage is situational. Good luck using a hunting or longbow in a tomb or below decks.


I see. Thanks!

I’m sorry, but that answer really doesn’t make much sense to me. If there were rules to help determine whether a hunting bow or a stygian short bow is better for a particular situation, then I’d understand. But there really aren’t ANY rules which suggest to apply modifiers for size of a weapon. I mean, sure, we could see that someone using a great sword in a small tunnel would have difficulty swinging it. But it doesn’t actually give you a rule about that.

Also, it seems to me, that if the description of said item would let you know, then each item should have a description so one could make the subjective decision. Interestingly, items do have a stat which could have been useful in determining this, the Encumbrance stat. But weirdly, the two weapons (Hunting and Stygian) have the same value. So it would seem that they should have the same penalty in any given situation.

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I think the idea was to give different penalties in different situations. The hunting bow is fine at a real range but suffer a penalty up close the Stygian bow does not.

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The problem is the ambiguity of the rules and the discussions that can happen during game with people you follow rules-as-written and more free-form interpretations.

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I’d just use increase the difficulty of attacks with larger bows and weapons in cramped spaces - sometimes using Doom, other times perhaps not, depending on context and environment.

There’s nothing “free-form” about that, it is completely within the rules and space of action and opportunity for the GM. In fact it is the GM’s responsibility to adjust and vary challenges in this way. It is following the rules as written, as they do state that the GM can and should adjust difficulties and encounters - this may be a discretionary decision, but is explicated in the rules, and guidelines and rules for how and when are provided, in the book. This is a typical example of how flavour text gives you, the GM, room to act and modify without having to refer to table X on page Y whenever you make a call and up the ante.

Calling that “free-form” is misleading, and requiring set rules for any- and everything, is - to use hyperbole - wanting this game to be more like monopoly or ludo, and not taking the game for what it is: a storytelling game focused on cinematics and exciting narratives, and daring-do.

Sure, rules-lawyers and players who are “in to win” so to speak, will always be a challenge. And of course, if the group has a fundamental adversarial structure between GM and players, and perhaps even between players, then this may be even more difficult without clear, hard, easily referenced rules for everything. As I understand it, this isn’t that type of game, and in my opinion that is very good thing. But it isn’t compatible with every group and play-style.


I think you need a new Quality for weapons or items in general, like “compact” or something similar.

This means that the item is especially compact and does not suffer a Difficulty increase in cramped spaces.

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Well said!

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Sorry to say it, but I agree that Modiphiu-SteveH answer is…senseless.

This is clearly a situation where no mechanics are given in the book and even the answer (about the tomb or decks) does not make sense in any mechanic term since it has nothing to do with the “fluff” description of the bow.

I frankly feel that an errata should be given here and maybe the Stygian Bow should get a quality to justify its “Devastating” effect described in the book.
Maybe (to have a parallel with Hyrkanian Bow), no penalty if shot from chariot?
THAT would be a really a Stygian-thematic mechanics, even more than giving a quality (will maybe Conan the Adventurer fix this issue?).

In old Conan games (Mongoose d20 Conan) the Stygian Bow was powerful and big…now it is just a normal, not very useful shortbow.
I have no idea if the big change makes sense in terms of REH’s writings (I’m frankly ignorant about REH’s mentions of Stygian bows) but if they made the difference due to what we see in Egyptian Archaeology…they may be wrong about it, since Egyptian ancient bows come in many different sizes.

There is absolutely no contradiction of Rules vs FreeForm…this is a game which give weapon stats and these stats are supposed to be meaningful.
Now both bow types have a C range…so there’s no meaningful difference!
This is clearly an error.

This is not an hyperbole…this is an error!!
This is not even “rule for everything” since weapon tables exist in any RPG to differentiate weapons on a basic level (otherwise, you just give all the bows the same stats).

I really feel that somebody just forgot something when rules were written !!
No decent RPG author waste his time writing a table like that and put two identical weapons on purpose.
I’m sure somebody forgot something.
It happened elsewhere in the book (see the whole alchemy/petty enchantments, etc… big issue) and I’m sure it happened here.

Although the Stygian and hunting bow are essentially the same weapon in the book, it is possible that @Modiphius-SteveH may have made an assumption about it and didn’t double check the rules, being a human and all, or he may just be telling you to make a call as a GM.

However. A Stygian bow vs a long bow or a shemite bow? In tight quarters where most ranges are close? The Stygian 100% RAW provides an advantage. Some of that advantage can be mitigated by talents, but in terms of the WORLD heroes are the exception and the talents they possess are as well.

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Stygian stuff brings at least something to the pcs lives: a bit of misery, because of its sinister rep.

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