Help me with a Magic Bow

Hi there.
Last session of my Burning Midgard game, one of the PCs made his Ob7 Scavenging Test in the hoard of a Dwarven Artificer, FoRKing Loot-wise and getting advantage from a Folklore test beforehand, to second his Belief: “It is not with this man-made hunting bow I will be able to defend myself and the people I care about against the Giants. I need a proper weapon.”

The intent of the test was, obviously, finding a magic/superior quality bow.
I set an Ob 7 for “Rare/Out of Place items” since a Great Bow in a dwarven hall is less than common.
However with said helps and FoRKs and a Deed point, the test succeeded (rolled a whopping 12 dice, working Carefully and Patiently, got 11 successes by spending a Fate to open-end a lot of 6s); then the bow was found.

Basing on the Folklore test made ahead, the PC used to know about a legend of a hero carrying that bow, and some fiction on the topic was already been generated, so it came up the bow was the prized possession of the hero Buliwyf, wich bartered it (alongside with many other riches and a sworn oath) for the Dwarf forging for a him a Giant-Slayer sword (of which you can find more info here).

So the story told about the hero Buliwyf sailing to a scattered islands archipelago to the West, where “the wind and waves constantly crashes upon the rocky shores, and no men dare to sail, since huge birds of prey inhabits those steep cliffs”. The hero there confronted and slain the biggest and most badass of these birds of pray, or maybe a winged air drake or wyvern in other versions of the story, and crafted the bow using its hollow bones for the bow itself and bowels and tendrils for the bowstring.
The legend says that “arrows flung from the bow screech and howl like a huge bird of prey falling upon its target” and “no adverse wind could ever divert an arrow shot from it” and “with the right tailwind from above, the arrows shot from the bow can gain devastating power and fly further afield than the eye can follow them”.

So, basically the item is a Great Bow, probably of superior quality made.
Now I want to add some special powers. They should be about
[li]Screeching and howling, making the foes who hear the bow firing made a Steel test or Hesitate.
[/li][li]The arrows shot not being influenced by adverse winds (probably negating Ob penalties for such circumstances?).
[/li][li]With the “right tailwind” and/or attacking from above, have the bow add some nasty effects, like Grey damage or +3 Pow on a 6 on the DoF or something similar.

Any help and ideas will be appreciated!

PS: Please note that the dwarven host which the bow was stolen from now is aware of the theft and will seek out the PCs for sure…

The first one is easy. Shooting it triggers a fear-based Steel Test in the target, hit or miss. Look to the Giant Eagle in the Monster Burner, which is perfect considering the folklore. It has a screech power that does this exact thing. A perfect antecedent for the enchantment! But how to limit it? Hrm… Well, you could add an enchanted Advantage Die. Each time the Advantage Die comes up a 6, the effect would be triggered.

The second is as you described - it never receives Ob penalties because of wind. But that’s pretty darn niche-y, no? Maybe the Advantage Die described above is the mechanical effect of never being affected by the wind. You shoot better because of you never worry about the wind.

The last one… well, just how epic do you want to go?

  • Maybe it’s as simple as +1D or +2D to Bow Skill when firing from above/with wind at your back. That would be in addition to the +1D noted above. +1D could result in more successes, meaning a guaranteed better result on the DoF, meaning a more deadly shot each time. But I’d demand the character start using some Weather or Wind-wise to roll in order to establish the wind direction before the conflict began. No hand-waving this detail!
  • Or it means there are no range-based Ob penalties. The Ob to hit is always based on Optimal range, no matter the distance fired. And no matter what, this bow gains any distance advantage over other ranged weapons/spells.
  • Or right, if the advantage die noted in the first option here turns up a 6, then the shot is grey.

With all this said, there’s got to be a price for all this magnificence, yes? An infamous reputation among flying creatures? Normal birds run in terror (chickens, crows, turkeys, sparrows… every type!) - which might seem demonic to the peasant folk. It could also mean +Ob when hunting for such. And, of course, the great birds would attack on sight! That’s an especially fun twist if the character fails a Climbing test!

Very nice advice here. First of all, thank you!
Now, point to point…

Sounds just perfect.

Second option seems the most viable. Or, given the first power is actually nichey, I can go with both.

I took a deeper thought on this and got that probably I don’t want to give the character a grey-damaging missile weapon. This will mean taking down almost any enemy from a distance without effort, especially if stacked with other powers from the bow and with the B6 Bow skill (soon to be B7) of the PC.
I’d rather prefer to have both the advantage dice (+2D seems fair enough) and the no-range based penalties. This will also give the character an incredible edge in Range and Cover if the PC managed to vie for position advantage.

Well, speaking of this…
The PC using the bow is a sneaky little bastard. You now, high Stealthy and Threne of the Chameleon, instincts about being stealthy all the time and such. He’s being more than once sniping from stealthy on unsuspecting foes.
So probably having a shrieking bow will pose on him already a big limitation. He could sneak, and he could still aim, and have his first shot, but after then probably the bow will reveal his position to all his foes granting them a fair chance to get cover.
And, he is a hunter. So the hunting skill +Ob seems also very interesting. This will be twofold: both hampering his more trivial pursuits and giving him a chance to test against some really high Obs to advance his skill. I will leave the +Ob penalty for all hunting tests.

What do you think?

I think birds flying away and shrieking when he approaches might cause, in some circumstances, additional Obstacle penalties to any Stealth test!

Here’s my total, non-final take on this. I usually overpower my stuff, so hopefully Thor or Luke will come along to take it down a peg! :slight_smile:

The Bow of Buliwyf

From the bones and sinew of a massive bird, the hero Buliwyf crafted this magnificent great bow. The legend says that arrows flung from the bow screech like a huge bird of prey falling upon its target, no wind could ever divert its arrows, and, with the right wind, arrows shot from the bow can gain devastating power and fly further afield than the eye can follow.

Weapon stats per Superior Quality Great Bow.


Light as a Feather
This bow is noticeably lighter than those crafted from wood.
Antecedent: bones of a great eagle

Feathered Flight
Arrows launched from the bow fly steady as the great eagle once did. However, the archer must use arrows fletched (Fletcher Ob 2/3?) with the tail feathers of a Great Eagle in order to activate this enchantment. All shots earn +1D Advantage Die to the Bow skill. No wind (even magical in nature) will affect its flight and thus ignores any penalties for such.
Antecedent: tail feathers of a great eagle

Terrifying Shriek
The echo of the great bird’s shrieks were trapped within the bow’s hollow frame. Upon a successful hit and the Advantage Die from “Feathered Flight” results in a 6, the echo is released and the target must make a Steel test versus Fear.
Antecedent: throat of a great eagle

The Windtaker
The wind itself rushes the arrow to its target, ensuring a deadly shot even at the greatest of distances. Upon a successful Wind-wise test (Ob3?), the archer finds the winds at his back are favorable to him. Gain +1D to Bow Skill and no range-based obstacles to Bow tests. This trait is not available indoors or underground.
Antecedent: wing feathers from a great eagle

All birds great and small fear and loathe Buliwyf’s bow. The bearer thus earns a +2D Infamous Reputation among them. Smaller birds, such as sparrows, chickens, ducks, turkeys, crows, etc flee the presence of the bow. Add +1Ob to any Hunting or outdoor Stealth test because of the racket the fleeing birds make. Predatory birds are more inclined to attack, making activities such as climbing much more dangerous! Great Eagles will attack on sight with the intent of seizing the bow and destroying it forever in some distant sea or volcano.

I tempered the Windtaker trait a bit, removing the bonus for firing from above a target. It seems that’s already a huge advantage and requires no risk. So just advantage from wind at your back.

I love it, that’s a wonderful writeup.

If one wanted a nice, but less powerful bow, dropping the Windtaker (and altering the flavor text) would still leave a very nice flavorful magic item.


Almost perfect writeup all in all, and you hit the nail on the head with the “light weighting” thinghy. I thought about it myself but didn’t share.
I’m not totally bought with the “enemy of all birds” thing, mostly since the legend is not so clear on that point. Could it be referred instead to birds of prey only? Maybe, hearing the screech they get angered and fall upon the wielder…

BWHQ is a big fan of the idea that all power comes at a price. In fact, most (if not all) items in the Magic Burner come with a hitch. It’s that hitch that makes a magic item legendary.

There are many such artifacts laden in poems of the skalds: Dainsleif, the powerful sword that cannot be sheathed unless it kills a man; Gungnir, Odin’s spear that always hits and always kills (great most of the time, but then there are those rare occasions where death of your enemy is the worst thing possible); Thor’s Hammer which cannot be picked up by an ignoble being (Marvel); and more.

It all just makes it a bit more interesting, giving more depth and consequences to the world. None of the downsides of BW’s items overpower the benefits, for that’d be completely unfun. But there’s just enough to give the hero pause before using, or at least to curb its overuse.

And finally, haha, maybe the enemy of birds was left out of the legend on purpose? What hero will regale audiences with tales that include birds fleeing him? Especially considering how the superstitious peasants might react.

Ok, now you fully bought me.
I will use your writeup as-is and let you know how it’d come.
Thank you for the insightful advice!

Hmmm. Toying with the idea a little bit more… I came up with some other aspects I’d like to bring in.
[li]Being the bow shoots arrow which are not affected by adverse winds and can fly further than any bow, and the birds-bane trait, maybe it could have an extra edge against birds? Like a +1 on the DoF o a +1pip on the PTGS.
[/li][li]Given the bow was made from a big bird of prey, probably the arrow it shoots too must be somewhat connected with the concept. Surely it could use specially constructed arrows. Maybe the arrows must be feathered with eagle/bird of prey wings to gain the +1D balanced advantage? This will pose an interesting challenge to the PC trying to hunt down as much specimen of the great eagles as he can. A cool quest and a good Belief in itself.
What about those?

It’s addicting, right? :wink:

  1. I don’t think this is necessary. The bow itself is already right at the edge of being overpowered. Anymore advantages and it’ll be D&D time! :slight_smile:

  2. YES! I actually wanted to do it that way, but it wasn’t in your concept so I avoided it. But yes, I really believe “Feathered Flight” should actually be a trait the arrows are empowered with in the right conditions. This is totally in the BW vein as now the hero has to work for his uber-ness. This, as you wrote, leads to adventure! And it fits Buliwyf’s legend, as he must have crafted the arrows from the bones and feathers of the bird, as well. My rewrite would look like this:

Feathered Flight
Arrows launched from the bow fly steady as the great eagle once did. However, the archer must use arrows fletched (Fletcher Ob 2/3?) with the tail feathers of a Great Eagle in order to activate this enchantment. All shots earn +1D Advantage Die to the Bow skill. No wind (even magical in nature) will affect its flight and thus ignores any penalties for such.
Antecedent: tail feathers of a great eagle

Figuring out the best way to get the feathers will be fun. Will he merely buy them from a merchant? A failed test there will create a rumor of the bow’s location, allowing those who want it to come and get it. Will he sneak into the great eagle’s aerie to steal away feathers that are scattered about the nest? If he fails, what might he find? A mewling baby about to be eaten by some hungry chicks? Or will he seek out combat with the giant raptor? Scary!


I edited it a little because I got all excited.

I don’t think I’d hunt giant eagles for a (limited) +1D on Bow. But I might go after them if arrows fletched with great eagle feathers reliably produced shrieks that made my enemies make Steel tests.

Actually on the featers: the bow has some spare feathers already attached to it. I described it to the PC this way the first time he pick it. I figured out they might have been there just for hornament, but now it’s clear they could’ve been kept aside by the bow’s previous owner to make more arrows. They could be enough to make a few arrows out of them, so the PC could taste the bow’s greatness. But then he’d sadly be confronted with the fact he can not shoot normal arrows from it and keep the advantages. Nagging, isn’t it?

As for the steel test causing effect, I agree is very powerful.
May it be all of the powers coming from the bow, aside the Great Bow o superior quality stats, could be subject to using great-eagle arrows?

Even I know when to stop tweaking! :wink:

The legend is about the bow. Keep the bow magical and not the arrows. If you fletched an arrow with great eagle feathers, then shot it from a regular bow, that arrow wouldn’t gain the Feathered Flight trait, right? The power comes from the bow. The great eagles feathers enable the trait transference.

I don’t think I’d hunt giant eagles for a (limited) +1D on Bow.

This is why you are not an adventurer! :slight_smile:

Final writeup:

Thank you Kublai! :cool:

Some minor typos to correct; and a suggested edit:
“The only reaction available is Stand and Drool if the target has no Traits or Instincts that say otherwise.”

BTW, I watched the movie The Thirteen Warrior this weekend. Buliwyf!