View Full Version : Optimizing the Hand Crossbow

2011-02-04, 02:43 PM
Assuming for a moment that you wanted too...

Character is a level 10 Artificer (with a free level of an NPC class, in this case Warrior) and I would like his primary weapon to be the hand crossbow. With his Personal Weapon Augment, he can make it a Bane weapon easily, and I am not adverse to spending some coin and XP making it better, but am at a loss, as I have never tried to trick out a hand crossbow before. Books allowed are pretty much anything 3.5 (no magazine stuff though) and no poisons - the character wouldn't use them.

Character doesn't have a huge DEX (arctic dwarf so -4 to DEX which hurt a lot) so please keep that in mind.

Short question - is it ever worth the feat to take this weapon proficiency, and if so, how to get the most mileage out of it?

2011-02-04, 02:45 PM
Make it repeating, at least. Otherwise, one shot per round is rarely ever worth it.

The Cat Goddess
2011-02-04, 02:51 PM
Tumbling Bolts.




Crossbow Sniper Feat.

Weapon Augment Crystal (Various).

2011-02-04, 02:54 PM
Hand Crossbows have pitiful damage, meaning you need to buff the damage into the stratosphere. Best method I've seen is Scout, but you can't use that, thanks to being an Artificer. Bane is good, but not enough IMO.

Quick-Loading would be a good first step. A second one would be Hand Crossbow Focus and possibly Versatile Combatant, from Drow of the Underdark, to make reloading snappy and to let you do a few fun tricks (rapier/hand xbow isn't terrible).

Anything to boost damage is good. Poisons are ideal, but you're not using them, so blech.

2011-02-04, 02:54 PM
Yeah, I was looking at the Quick Loading enchantment from the MIC, which loads a hand or light crossbow as a free action, enabling full attacks with them.

I always forget about augment crystals - nice reminder.

Force is good for a lot of things - and might be just the ticket here as well.

2011-02-04, 03:01 PM
You say no poison. What about ravages from Exalted Deeds?

2011-02-04, 03:02 PM
I don't consider -2 damage pitiful. Presumably you load buffs onto your crossbow and are playing a dex based character anyway.

Anything that can give you good regular crossbow damage can boost a hand crossbow, plus you can hide a hand crossbow when going into public places.

2011-02-04, 03:08 PM
If you're burning a feat on proficiency anyway, why not use a Double Hand Crossbow from the Races of the Dragon Web Enhancement (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060420a)? If you don't already have proficiency in normal hand crossbows (such as from Rogue levels), taking Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Double Hand Crossbow) gives you proficiency and basically a free Rapid Shot feat to boot.

2011-02-04, 03:14 PM
Be a bit careful with Quick Loading. It doesn't specifically mention whether or not you're still subject to AoO's when you reload. The Rapid Reload feat does, and specifically calls out that it still leaves you vulnerable to Attacks of Opportunity when you're reloading. If your DM rules that the weapon enhancement is equivalent to the feat, you'll need to make sure you're out of AoO range if you want more than one attack per round.

If your Dex is a lot lower than your Wis, Zen Archery (feat from CWar) is an option.

Arguskos nailed it about the damage. You either need to be doing some sort of bonus damage (bane, elemental, poison, etc) or dealing some sort of status effect (Enervating? Doom Burst?). Quite a few of the MiC weapon properties work only on critical hits, so improving your critical threat range can help. Still, when you class doesn't already get something to help you on the bonus damage, it's going to be hard to come up with a non-gouda way to be competitive.

You are an Artificer, though ... have you considered building an army of Arbalesters to support you? :smallbiggrin:

2011-02-04, 03:15 PM
Arbalester Homonculus. Store Infusion from improved Homonculus feat. You could hold it in one had while not actually firing it yourself. It fires automatically using it's own actions.

2011-02-04, 03:19 PM
-4 Dex? Ee. That rules out Crossbow Sniper, one of the easier ways to improve crossbow damage. You should probably take Zen Archery, maybe Charming the Arrow (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/fey/20030815a) instead if you pump up your Cha to improve your UMD check.

Being an artificer, you can get some very useful Ranger and Assassin spells such as Arrow Storm, Sniper's Shot, and Hunter's Eye that'll make your combat abilities respectable. There are also some pretty solid spells such as Bloodfreeze Arrow in Champions of Ruin. A wand of Hunter's Eye, at least, is an excellent idea.

The Splitting weapon enhancement is very powerful, so consider it.

Keld Denar
2011-02-04, 03:23 PM
Whatever you do, tilt the crossbow sideways when you fire at people. Its more gangsta that way.

It should also probably say "Desert Eagle .50" on the side. Anything else is just a replica.

2011-02-05, 03:34 AM
It should also probably say "Desert Eagle .50" on the side. Anything else is just a replica.

Then again, writing "Replica" on your Hand Crossbow is worth more than two smoking barrels. :)

2011-02-05, 05:19 AM
yeah, its worth a "snatch" more than two smoking barrels. Sorry, that was bad, I just got back from the bars. Forgive me. :smalltongue:

2011-02-05, 09:03 AM
Arbalester Homonculus. Store Infusion from improved Homonculus feat. You could hold it in one had while not actually firing it yourself. It fires automatically using it's own actions.

Yeah, this is what I decided to go with. Two of them in fact, both taken to 3 HD and given flight. They can ride in my Handy Haversack until needed, then fly out and rain death down. Just need to get some more gold to enchant those crossbows they use.