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    Question Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    How do you guys describe the appearance of archers to your players?

    Strong and muscular or skinny and agile?

    They need some muscle to pull that long bow string. But they also need to be fast to fire as many arrows as they can.
    Last edited by S@tanicoaldo; 2014-09-03 at 07:51 PM.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    I just say they're elves. *shrug*

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    "Wiry" is a good word. It implies strength, but slenderness.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    I usually describe my archers as carrying a bow and quiver, and possibly wearing some kind of armor/uniform.
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    I like to think of them as big guys with long arms, chosen for draw-strength and distance.
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Depends on the individual archer. An ogre archer is going to be beefier than an elven archer.
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Honestly, it depends on the archer. I mean, the ripcord-muscle style archer is classic because that's what makes sense for someone who's equipped to use a bow. Then you look at Stephen Amell on Arrow (CW series based off of DC's Green Arrow) and the dude is ripped to no end but it still works with the character. Honestly it depends on the build. If it's a character that relies on precision to get the job done the skinnier and more dexterous look might be better off, if they rely more on the force of the bow and being able to handle themselves up close too then a more "buffed" archer may be more appropriate.
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    It depends on the archer in question. The real commonality is bow use, along with the muscles needed for that. Sometimes that means a thin, wiry type. Sometimes it's a big buff guy. Sometimes it's an overweight person who doesn't even look particularly muscular until they do something and demonstrate that it's not just fat they're hauling around. Sometimes it's not someone who looks strong at all, as you're not seeing the physique under the clothing. Etc. I do think that a given archer is more likely to be wiry, if any particular description is given, but there's variation.
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    I don't consider weapon of choice as a factor in determining a character's physical appearance. Rather, both of those are things that I consider separate expressions of the character's concept and personality.

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    I would describe them as having an arm that is more muscular than the other. And really callous fingers and wrists.

    Anyway, the image of the nimble archer is just somethign popularized by Tolkien's elves, in reality to be an archer you had to be very strong but as far as speed and agility was concerned you could have been lame and it wouldn't have made a difference. You won't be moving around that much anyway. As long as you can pull the bow string and make the arrow go where you want it to go, you're good. At most, it's hand-eye coordination that was important.
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    One arm would be much more muscular than the other (the drawing arm) but I'm not sure if it would be readily noticeable. (It can be seen on their bones by a trained person.) Arms would generally be stronger than legs, too.

    Incidentally, mounted knights would typically have much stronger arms than legs, while foot soldiers are strong all over.

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    The "weak, but agile archer" cliché is really annoying. The proper primary stats for an archer on a battlefield should be strength and constitution, not dexterity. In fact, even wisdom would be a more appropriate stat than dexterity. Also, an above-average strength should be a prerequisite for using anything but a basic hunting bow. This is reflected poorly by many game systems.

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    It depends on the archer in question. The real commonality is bow use, along with the muscles needed for that. Sometimes that means a thin, wiry type. Sometimes it's a big buff guy. Sometimes it's an overweight person who doesn't even look particularly muscular until they do something and demonstrate that it's not just fat they're hauling around. Sometimes it's not someone who looks strong at all, as you're not seeing the physique under the clothing. Etc. I do think that a given archer is more likely to be wiry, if any particular description is given, but there's variation.
    Depending on the archer's form and the type of bow though. An overweight person may have issues unless they have a chest guard to hold their flesh out of the path of their bowstring, whereas a woman may be perfectly fine without a chestguard as due to the way she she shoots, her bosom doesn't get in the way.

    While a minimum physical ability is required, it's not until you start getting into the big draw weight bows (>100lb) that archers would be more and more physically powerful. For anything up to about 75lbs, thin and wiry would be perfectly acceptable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ettina View Post
    One arm would be much more muscular than the other (the drawing arm) but I'm not sure if it would be readily noticeable. (It can be seen on their bones by a trained person.) Arms would generally be stronger than legs, too.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kalmageddon View Post
    I would describe them as having an arm that is more muscular than the other. And really callous fingers and wrists.
    While the spine, drawing arm and its shoulder joint would be slightly overdeveloped, it wouldn't be overtly visible (the Mary Rose had a number of skeletons with these adaptations and since there were the remains of bows nearby, it was assumed they were archers). The holding arm would also be fairly strong though - while the drawing arm is pulling the string back, the other arm is still holding the bow in place.

    However the main way to spot a high draw weight archer is the size of their back as that's where the strength to draw comes from. Fingers possibly, but that's why archers have tabs and I'm not seeing why the wrist would be affected.

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Berenger View Post
    The "weak, but agile archer" cliché is really annoying. The proper primary stats for an archer on a battlefield should be strength and constitution, not dexterity. In fact, even wisdom would be a more appropriate stat than dexterity. Also, an above-average strength should be a prerequisite for using anything but a basic hunting bow. This is reflected poorly by many game systems.
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    Dex is HELLA useful to an archer, since it adds to Attack and Defense rolls, but you need a minimum strength to handle any weapon. But Int and Wisdom also add to Attack and Defense (respectively), and the archery rules are fun and pretty fast.
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    From what I understand about muscle development, even lots of archery practice doesn't get you bulgy arms or chests. Probably more well shaped than flabby, but invisible under a shirt.
    I believe in fact strength doesn't lead to muscles growing in size at all. If you want big muscles, you have to do other work on them than increasing strength.
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Googling up some images of olympic archers, they seem to be in good shape but they're hardly bulky.

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I believe in fact strength doesn't lead to muscles growing in size at all. If you want big muscles, you have to do other work on them than increasing strength.
    Muscles growing in size become stronger, but they also can increase their strength without increase in size.

    Of course there are limits on how much stronger muscle can be without becoming heavier/bigger.

    Different activities and diet will lead to different development.
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Berenger View Post
    The "weak, but agile archer" cliché is really annoying. The proper primary stats for an archer on a battlefield should be strength and constitution, not dexterity. In fact, even wisdom would be a more appropriate stat than dexterity. Also, an above-average strength should be a prerequisite for using anything but a basic hunting bow. This is reflected poorly by many game systems.
    The dex requirement (in some games, and stereotypes) is probably more related to hand eye coordination and ability to aim well.

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    @BRC: I'd rather rather google up some marines. An archer in the context of role playing games is more often than not some type of soldier or ranger. "Shooting a bow at orcs" isn't a nine to five job, just as "shooting a rifle at insurgents" isn't nine to five job - the lion's share of soldiering / adventuring will be comprised marching while carrying heavy equipment, setting up camp, keeping watch etc.

    @cobaltstarfire: I know, but it isn't really hard to hold a bow of appropriate pull - good depth perception, patience and the ability to correct your aim during a sequence of shots are more important in my experience.
    Last edited by Berenger; 2014-09-04 at 12:15 PM.

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Berenger View Post
    @BRC: I'd rather rather google up some marines. An archer in the context of role playing games is more often than not some type of soldier or ranger. "Shooting a bow at orcs" isn't a nine to five job, just as "shooting a rifle at insurgents" isn't nine to five job - the lion's share of soldiering / adventuring will be comprised marching while carrying heavy equipment, setting up camp, keeping watch etc.
    Sure, but then you also have things like city guards, retired military living in a city, so on and so forth. Which makes it entirely possible for an archer who shows up to be an overweight ex-military official with a limp, who's still a crack shot and poses a very, very nasty surprise for anyone taking an action against them who assumed they were just some soft, injured civilian.
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Weren’t British archers supposed to be big brawny guys?
    Like 6’4” or better and well fed (beefy, not fat or scrawny).

    That to me suggests strength.

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheThan View Post
    Weren’t British archers supposed to be big brawny guys?
    Like 6’4” or better and well fed (beefy, not fat or scrawny).

    That to me suggests strength.
    Wikipedia says the estimated draw weights of english longbows as being anywhere between 80 and 200 pounds, with a modern longbow's draw weight at around 60. I'm not sure how those numbers work out, but It sounds like in order to use that effectively in combat you would need to be pretty strong.
    Last edited by BRC; 2014-09-04 at 02:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    From what I understand about muscle development, even lots of archery practice doesn't get you bulgy arms or chests. Probably more well shaped than flabby, but invisible under a shirt.
    I believe in fact strength doesn't lead to muscles growing in size at all. If you want big muscles, you have to do other work on them than increasing strength.
    Indeed. Look at real life athletes and people doing hard, physical labour for a living. They range from wiry, not very big but with steely limbs, to large, somewhat shapeless guys who might be mistaken for fat at a first glance. But sculpted, Schwarzenegger-like physiques are very rare. They are a result of bodybuilding, which is very different from strength- and endurance-building exercise.

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Berenger View Post
    @BRC: I'd rather rather google up some marines. An archer in the context of role playing games is more often than not some type of soldier or ranger. "Shooting a bow at orcs" isn't a nine to five job, just as "shooting a rifle at insurgents" isn't nine to five job - the lion's share of soldiering / adventuring will be comprised marching while carrying heavy equipment, setting up camp, keeping watch etc.

    @cobaltstarfire: I know, but it isn't really hard to hold a bow of appropriate pull - good depth perception, patience and the ability to correct your aim during a sequence of shots are more important in my experience.
    I agree, you need both to be effective. :)

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    Googling up some images of olympic archers, they seem to be in good shape but they're hardly bulky.
    Olympic archery rules cap the draw weight at 48lbs for men and 37lbs for women, so there's very little reason for them to train at drawing a heavier weight than that.

    Looking up the laws for bowhunting in the US, the minimum weight depends on what you're hunting and what state you're in, but it says a minimum of 30-40lbs for deer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Berenger View Post
    @cobaltstarfire: I know, but it isn't really hard to hold a bow of appropriate pull - good depth perception, patience and the ability to correct your aim during a sequence of shots are more important in my experience.
    Bear in mind that target archery is a very different technique to hunting and for combat. The main one is that with combat, you don't hold the draw unlike in target and hunting, so while it is a heavier weight to pull, you don't hold it at maximum draw (the most tiring part) for long.

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    Wikipedia says the estimated draw weights of english longbows as being anywhere between 80 and 200 pounds, with a modern longbow's draw weight at around 60. I'm not sure how those numbers work out, but It sounds like in order to use that effectively in combat you would need to be pretty strong.
    The wiki article is somewhat misleading as a bow's draw weight is whatever the bow is made to, even with modern self bows (bows carved out of a single piece of wood, typically a longbow). The exact draw weight of an English warbow during Medieval times is under heavy debate but the English Warbow Society have records of 170lbs so the more ridiculous weights are possible (example).

    The Ming dynasty also had very heavy draw weight bows, although they were used for military examinations and there's minimal evidence that these bows were actually used in combat.
    Last edited by Brother Oni; 2014-09-04 at 06:11 PM. Reason: I forgot a word

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    If you take one of the middle weight classes in most sports (of the top of my head come weightlifting, boxing and wrestling) you'll see a wide variety of physiques amongst people of the same mass, doing the same stuff. So you could probably take from that to have your archer look however you feel like, or start some ridiculous debate over what stats contribute to looking sexy... I mean, looking like someone who could do arrow stuff.


    Also: arms typically stronger than legs and mounted knights having much stronger arms than legs... Could you be more precise in your meaning, I don't want to misinterpret you or owt, but that doesn't make much sense to me.
    Last edited by JustSomeGuy; 2014-09-04 at 05:20 PM.

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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Just look at Jeremy Renner AKA Hawkeye in The Avengers. He's relatively thin and compact, but dense and muscular.
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    As a guy who shoots bow i can tell you a medieval archer would be fairly developed. I mean i only pull 45-50 pounds they were pulling at minimum 60 pounds all the way up to 120 or more. As has been pointed out before this would be most prominent in the back muscles, and i honestly think that the new Hawkeye is a great example of what an archer would look like, or at the very least your average ranger
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    Default Re: Buffed archers or skinny archers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhawk748 View Post
    As a guy who shoots bow i can tell you a medieval archer would be fairly developed. I mean i only pull 45-50 pounds they were pulling at minimum 60 pounds all the way up to 120 or more.
    I'd think 60lbs for a longbow would be a bit light (depending on the draw length), as during the Tudor era, the minimum target distance for anybody over 19 was 220 yards by law.

    How well that law was enforced is unclear, but it gives an idea as to the expected standard.

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