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  • Making slings more accurate (and useful!)

    EDIT : if you want to skip all the debate and just get the final answer, go to the bottom post on the second page in the thread.

    The following is a compilation from archaeologists, scholars, and quotes from ancient authors (sorry, I don't know how to hide all this inside a "spoiler" box to avoid TMI) :

    The sling was one of the first projectile weapons, developed as early as 10,000 B.C.. Slingers played an important part in the Persian, Greek, Roman, and various Mesopotamian armies, and were considered to be equal to or better than bowmen. Slings continued to be used thruout the medieval period. Handgun accuracy remained poor until the introduction of barrel rifling in the 1800s. This allowed the sling to continue to be used by some cultures effectively against firearm-equipped troops almost until modern times.

    By 100 BC, projectiles were being cast in lead. These lead projectiles (“bullets”) were also far cheaper than arrows or bolts, making slings cost effective both in the weapon and its ammunition (good bows are very hard to make!). Also by 100 BC, the shape of the bullets were (American) football-shaped. Penetration ability was increased tremendously, allowing sling projectiles to penetrate flesh more readily.

    Damage :
    - In the hands of an expert, a heavy sling bullet or stone could reach speeds of up to 100 mph (160 km/h).
    - Lead bullets from slings had nearly the stopping power of a modern .44 magnum handgun.
    - Missiles were more deadly than arrows to a man in leather armour. Even if the missile could not penetrate the armour of their targets, they were capable of inflicting fatal internal injuries.
    If the opponent was un­armored, of course, the missile could easily penetrate the body.

    - With a sling, [the Aztecs] throw a large stone with such force that it could kill a horse. Its effect is indeed only slightly less than that of [a Spanish firearm].
    - I have seen how a stone flung from a sling over a distance of 30 paces broke in two a sword that a man was holding in his hand.
    - Soldiers, despite their defensive armor, are often more aggravated by the round stones from the sling than by all the arrows of the enemy. Stones kill without mangling the body, and the contusion is mortal without loss of blood.
    - By hurling a shower of great stones, they wounded many and even killed not a few of those who were attacking, and they shattered the defensive armour of most of them.
    - At 50 yards slings are as dangerous as firearms in native hands.

    Range :
    - Even a modern sporting bow with a 45-pound pull can propel its arrow little more than 200 meters.
    - Young untrained men slung ordinary pebbles for me. In five out of 11 trials the pebbles struck beyond a mark placed 200 meters away.
    - The Greeks suffered severely from the slingers in the army of Artaxerxes II of Persia, while they themselves had neither cavalry nor slingers, and were unable to reach the enemy with their arrows and javelins
    - It seems probable that a slinger casting lead missiles could attain a range in excess of 400 meters.

    Speed :
    - A good slinger could fire more than twelve rounds a minute. --> 5 seconds, or 1 per round (reloading is a Free Action).

    Training :
    - These peoples were trained from boyhood. Having been trained to shoot through rings of moderate circumference from long distances, they would wound not merely the heads of their enemies but any part of the face at which they might have aimed.
    - The sling requires enormous skill, one that can generally only be obtained with training from childhood. Without this mastery, a person armed with the weapon would be practically useless.

    ================================================== ==================================================

    As a result of this information, I'm thinking of making the following changes :

    Range : twice as far as a bow --> 25/50/100

    Damage : had nearly the stopping power of a modern .44 magnum handgun --> Str+d6+1
    more deadly than arrows against opponents in leather armor --> AP 1 (due to blunt force trauma)
    could kill a horse (Toughness 8) : Str=d10 has 40% chance; 75% with called shot/Head+Aim
    could shatter a sword or armor (Hardness 10, no Acing) --> additional +1 damage to breaking things -->
    Str=d10 has 65% chance

    Requires intensive training :
    New Edge, Sling-trained
    Requirements : Novice, Athletics d8+
    The character has been training since a young age with slings. Without this Edge, someone attempting to use a sling is at –6. This penalty cannot be reduced by Aim or Marksman.

    Ammo : standard weight = 50 gm --> 1 kg = 20 bullets = 2.2 lb --> 2 lb for 20 bullets; cost $8/20 lead bullets

    The “could consistently hit the head” is already covered by the Aim maneuver.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by ZenFox42; 10-11-2021, 03:40 PM.
    Savage Summaries-RAW, with added info from Clint:Combat Actions,Cover,Healing,Using Powers,Grappling,Chases (all SWD)
    Also:Persuasion (SWADE),Better Bosses (SWADE),Handling Illusions (SWADE), Better Combat Rating (system independent)
    And:historical tech levels,generic SW sci-fi tech levels (both system indepdent)

  • #2
    I think you've gone too far in the other direction.
    What you're presenting is Range 25/50/100, Damage Str+d6+1, RoF 1, AP 1; that's comparable to the M1 Garand of World War 2.

    Range: A 45-pound draw is for dilettantes. Serious hunting or war bows start at 70 pounds* (a modern "heavy draw") and go up, with historical models topping out around a 200 pound draw. Further, ranges in Savage Worlds are comically short - under the table-top rules, United States Marines are all impossibly good marksman (the shortest range for the mandatory rifle qualification course is 200 yards, or 100").
    Increase to Range 10/20/40 and you'll see good performance, with a Brute able to nearly match the range of an archer (11/22/44 versus 12/24/48).

    Damage: Sling bullets are deadly, no question. But "nearly" matching .44 magnum is a frequent claim by dramatizing scripts. Being a Strength-based ranged weapon is a huge advantage; an athletic d8 Strength deals an average 8.43 damage per hit (+4.2 for a raise). Compare that to the Long Bow's average 8.4 damage per hit for the same Strength. And the sling's damage keeps increasing with Strength. That's simply amazing.
    Conquistador firearms were generally an arquebus on par with the blunderbuss on page 73. Assuming Medium Range (coincidentally the same 10/20/40 range I suggest for the Sling), that's 2d6 damage (average 8.4) on a hit.
    Breaking a sword is possible for a person of d6 Strength, but very possible for a person of d8 Strength.
    Leave at Damage Str+d4 and you've still got a weapon usable by any shepherd boy (Str d4, young) that a fit adult (Str d8) can use to kill armored soldiers.

    Training: The Familiarization rules (page 36) apply ; they are not Range, Illumination, Cover, or Scale so Aim / Marksman do not apply. It already uses the Athletics skill, a skill generally neglected by archers. A d4 with -2 is unreliable enough that characters will not casually pick up and "master" a sling.

    *The wreck of the Mary Rose, and the numerous war stores recovered from it, demonstrate that the median draw weight was 155 pounds.
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thoughts?

      TL;DR I have no way of evaluating any claim made so I would not implement any of the resulting conclusions.

      CITE YOUR SOURCES!

      100 mph? Great. At what weight of bullet?
      You said stopping power.
      What is "leather armor"?
      "At 50 yards slings are as dangerous as firearms in native hands." Again, CITE YOUR SOURCES! Decontextualized as it is, this means nothing.

      45 lb bows. In war. Really?
      400 meter sling shots? On par with an assault rifle? What do you imagine is the effectiveness of this shot?

      Compare and contrast these statements.
      - Young untrained men slung ordinary pebbles for me. In five out of 11 trials the pebbles struck beyond a mark placed 200 meters away.
      - The sling requires enormous skill, one that can generally only be obtained with training from childhood. Without this mastery, a person armed with the weapon would be practically useless.

      Comment


      • ZenFox42
        ZenFox42 commented
        Editing a comment
        All of the statements came from 2 sources : a Scientific American article (which didn't quote its sources, but is very reliable), and a scholarly article which did quote its sources for each one of its statements. But what good would that do, to know that John Smith made that statement? This isn't a scholarly debate, we're talking about the rules of a *game*!
        Last edited by ZenFox42; 10-06-2021, 05:48 PM.

      • paladin2019
        paladin2019 commented
        Editing a comment
        Who said something and where the info came from is important to verify the veracity of the claims and decide whether unverifiable claims are more FFF than verifiable ones. When above average Str puts a sling on par with a 9mm anyway, I can't do anything with the information provided.

    • #4
      Is a sling as powerful as a gun? Let's ask a weapons professional: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BehBbNQRjXw
      He accepts he isnt as good as he could be with a sling, but notes some pros are hitting 60 m/s. Which is 134 mph. He's hitting about 30-35 m/s. So, yes 100mph is achievable (45 m/s).
      He also brings up shot weight and momentum, and makes an observation that it could be comparable to a 9mm handgun re penetration. Not quite a .44 Magnum.

      He does further videos on other aspects and they are worth a watch.

      The OP makes some salient points but I think is going a bit too far.
      Like what you have read in someone's post? Hit that like button and let everyone know.

      I run Deadlands Reloaded. One of my players writes an incharacter blog here --> http://ballgownsandbattleskirts.blog...deadlands.html

      Comment


      • Deskepticon
        Deskepticon commented
        Editing a comment
        I thought of the same video while reading the OP.
        Greats minds, yadda yah!

    • #5
      I don’t believe Strength has anything to do with the sling’s damage potential. It’s momentum which powers the bullet. So have it straight damage?

      Comment


      • #6
        Valhalla said :
        Further, ranges in Savage Worlds are comically short


        I know, that's why even tho I listed "real world" ranges in the info, I merely doubled the bow's SW listed range.

        ...able to nearly match the range of an archer (11/22/44 versus 12/24/48)

        Even if making the sling's range double that of a bow is too much, there's that reference that said that in combat, slingers were able to hit bowmen, but not the other way around. How about 1.2 times the bow's range, for 15/30/60?

        But "nearly" matching .44 magnum is a frequent claim by dramatizing scripts.

        That video that several people above mentioned (which I watched before starting further research) came up with very similar momentums for a typical pistol bullet (2.85) and his sling stone (2.8).

        an athletic d8 Strength [with a base d4 damage] deals an average 8.43 damage per hit (+4.2 for a raise). Compare that to the Long Bow's average 8.4 damage per hit for the same Strength.

        There's several statements that slings were better than arrows at doing damage, especially against leather-armored soldiers (hence the AP 1).

        Breaking a sword is possible for a person of d6 Strength, but very possible for a person of d8 Strength.

        Assuming you're using the base +d4, d6+d4 (no Acing) has an average damage of 6, and a maximum damage of 10. Only 4% of the time will the sword be broken.
        d8+d4 (no Acing) has an average damage of 7, max 12. Only a 19% chance of breaking. I wouldn't call that "very possible".

        Leave at Damage Str+d4 and you've still got a weapon ...that a fit adult (Str d8) can use to kill armored soldiers.

        d8+d4 with Acing averages 8.4. Even with only a d6 Vigor and just leather, Toughness is 6. That has a chance of killing in one shot (which I'm assuming you're implying) of 25%. Possible, but not that great.

        I will admit, I made the damage equal to a Colt .45, only because of the reference to the .44 Magnum. But most references say it is nearly as powerful as pistols, so I would be willing to drop the +1. That would bring it in-line with the video's assessment of a sling being comparable to a 9mm handgun (2d6) for an average-trained slinger.

        It already uses the Athletics skill, a skill generally neglected by archers. A d4 with -2 is unreliable enough that characters will not casually pick up and "master" a sling.

        I'm not worried about someone with no Athletics skill picking up a sling and using it; I'm concerned about someone with a high Athletics (for say, Grappling) picking up a sling for the first time and being proficient at it.

        The Familiarization rules (page 36) apply.

        I just wanted to be sure that an appropriately large penalty would be applied.

        So, take 2 :
        Range : 15/30/60
        Damage : Str+d6, AP 1, additional +1 damage to breaking things
        Familiarization : -6 if haven't been training since an early age
        Savage Summaries-RAW, with added info from Clint:Combat Actions,Cover,Healing,Using Powers,Grappling,Chases (all SWD)
        Also:Persuasion (SWADE),Better Bosses (SWADE),Handling Illusions (SWADE), Better Combat Rating (system independent)
        And:historical tech levels,generic SW sci-fi tech levels (both system indepdent)

        Comment


        • #7
          Originally posted by ZenFox42 View Post
          I merely doubled the bow's SW listed range.
          You did a bit more than that.
          Regardless, double the range of a bow is the same formula used by modern rifles. Not even you are claiming that slings have range parity with assault rifles.

          If you insist that slings become superior to bows then increase their range to match the Long Bow (the best bow). Which means a Brute slinger can best Robin Hood in a marksmanship contest. That is too good, to my mind, but you're the one insisting that slings are categorically better than bows.

          (Please point us at those range references. The only ones I've seen indicated that range differences were a result of wind effects - the arrows were fired against the wind, which seriously impacted their effective range.)

          Originally posted by ZenFox42 View Post
          That video that several people above mentioned (which I watched before starting further research) came up with very similar momentums for a typical pistol bullet (2.85) and his sling stone (2.8).
          His findings compared it to a 9x19mm pistol, the weakest of the 2d6 pistol rounds. Very impressive, but consistent with the math in my previous post.
          I like Todd's work but he's bad about stating his units.
          Todd's assumed 9mm = 7.5g, 380 m/s = 2.85 kgm/s
          Todd's sling = 80g, 35 m/s = 2.8 kgm/s
          Todd's war arrows from his lockdown longbow tests (160lb draw equivalent) = 81g, 57m/s = 4.6 kgm/s, which is very consistent with the testing done by acknowledged historical bowman Joe Gibbs in his own tests with a 160lb draw bow firing similar arrows from the same reenactor fletcher.
          .44 magnum assumed* = 14g, 460 m/s = 6.4 kgm/s

          2.8 is pretty close to 2.85, but neither one is close to 6.4. There is a reason .44magnum is spoken of the way it is - it is an insanely powerful handgun round.

          *I used rounded numbers for easier math, but that is a 216 grain bullet at ~1510 ft/s.

          There's several statements that slings were better than arrows at doing damage, especially against leather-armored soldiers (hence the AP 1).
          AP affects all armor.
          Are slings better against plate than arrows? I don't know, I've never tested it nor have I seen it tested. But I am doubtful.
          Are slings better against gambeson than arrows? I haven't tested it, but my intuition says that a blunt projectile will be inferior to a sharp projectile.

          I wouldn't call that "very possible".
          And that's the issue with relative, or subjective, statements. We do not have an objective definition, making them poor communication.

          d8+d4 with Acing averages 8.4. Even with only a d6 Vigor and just leather, Toughness is 6. That has a chance of killing in one shot (which I'm assuming you're implying) of 25%. Possible, but not that great.
          The same odds as 2d6 acing (average 8.4). Which are about 30.5% chance of getting 10+ with either 2d6 or d8+d4.
          If the designers decided that a 30% chance of a normal hit Incapacitating a typical Soldier (in very light armor) was the sweet spot then I won't argue. Especially since that aligns reasonably well with historical records on the effectiveness of missile weapons.

          I just wanted to be sure that an appropriately large penalty would be applied.
          Define "appropriate". Because a -8 is harder than a one-armed man trying to fire a bow at night.

          So, take 2 :
          Range : 15/30/60
          Damage : Str+d6, AP 1, additional +1 damage to breaking things
          Familiarization : -6 if haven't been training since an early age
          I think the range is too long (see Brute vs. Robin Hood earlier this post). If you wanted to match the Bow, and then a Brute can exceed it, then that would probably be fine. But better base range than a pistol or sub machine gun is too good.
          Damage is too good. A combat slinger (Str d8) is averaging 9.3 damage, AP 1. That's enough to reliably (50+%) cause Shaken on a knight in plate armor (Toughness 10 (4)). That's better performance than the 9mm pistol it should be comparable to.
          +1 damage to Breaking Things is fiddly but I can live with it.
          If a sling was so difficult to learn then it wouldn't have been independently developed by cultures all over the world. They would have stuck with the atlatl.
          Last edited by ValhallaGH; 10-06-2021, 06:42 PM.
          I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

          Comment


          • #8
            I need to agree with paladin2019 on this. Many of the references seem to lack critical context. It's less important how credible the source is than it is to be able to look further into some of the claims made.

            Claim: Sling bullets penetrate armor better than arrows.
            • What type of armor? If leather, what quality? Many "debunking" videos (usually from hokey TV programs) use cheap costume armor to over-exaggerate the effectiveness of historical weapons. Without a reference, it's not possible to tell if the claim is based off a similar test.
            • What type of bow? More powerful bows will obviously have better penetration.
            • What type of arrow head? There are many different heads, each better or worse at a specific function. Bodkins are great for splitting rings and punching through maille, but are less effective against gambeson than a standard broadhead.
            Claim: Slings have further range than bows.
            • Again, what type of bow? English longbows, with an average draw-weight around 110-130 lbs, have been said to reach 400+ yards (with an effective combat range half that). At least, the minimum practice range during King Henry VIII was 220 yards (110 game inches). Even if a sling were to reach 400+ yards (which I don't doubt), the effective range for a trained slingsman would likely be half as well.
            Claim: Sling bullets can break swords.
            • Easily the weakest claim since it seems to come from a single anecdotal observation. Skallagrim made a YT video a couple years ago where he shot a sword with either a 9mm or .22 (effectively the same when it comes to SW stats) and the sword broke in two. By the same reasoning you've used, pistols should gain a bonus to Breaking Things.
            ___________

            Anyway...

            I will admit that the range for slings is a bit low, but I think that's part of the balancing aspect. Literally anyone can pick up a Sling and be somewhat decent with it thanks to Core Skills. And this does mean literally anyone, from the trained fighter to the pudgey kid down the street. Also, don't forget about the somewhat nebulous nature of weapons in Savage Worlds. A "sling" can easily represent a "slingshot" or "wrist-rocket" (a Y-shaped stick with rubber tubing attached). The marginally better range than simply throwing something makes perfect sense in this context.

            From what I can gather, your fix is to beef-up the weapon stats and make everyone suffer a -4 penalty when using it unless they take an Edge. Correct? Wouldn't it just be easier to leave the stats the same, but offer an Edge for "trained slingsmen" that improves the stats to long bow levels? In effect, it'd be an Edge that lets you use Athletics with a long bow, deals Str+d6 damage, and costs 1/30th as much. Slap on some appropriate Requirements (like Novice, Agility d8) and call it done. The kids can still use their "slings" to break bottles or windows, and David can take an Edge to fell Golliath in one stroke.

            Comment


            • #9
              The bigger problem I see is that Slings should be a static damage like arrows not STR+d4. So if you want it close to bows then d4+d6 damage. I also don’t see a problem with AP 1. That can represent the kinetic damage that is sent through the armor.

              Comment


              • #10
                Originally posted by Ninja-Bear View Post
                The bigger problem I see is that Slings should be a static damage like arrows not STR+d4.
                Why is this a problem?

                Changing to a static damage makes the sling less effective and less appealing.
                I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

                Comment


                • #11
                  Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
                  Why is this a problem?

                  Changing to a static damage makes the sling less effective and less appealing.
                  Because Slings aren’t based on Strength of the user.

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Here’s a fun fact, in 2010 the fastest known thrown fastball in the MLB was recorded at 105.1 MPH by Aroldis Chapman.

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Originally posted by Ninja-Bear View Post

                      Because Slings aren’t based on Strength of the user.
                      So a stronger user can't spin the sling faster thus releasing the bullet with more force? Or the differentials aren't significant enough to be a factor?

                      Comment


                      • #14

                        I am sure I am not buying this argument at all. While a professional with some edges may be able to get more damage and speed out of a hurled object. I know there is a huge difference in the force I can get behind a sling as someone with above average strength for an adult man, than my daughter who has the average strength of a teenage girl. There is definitely a strength element involved in both the velocity and the size of the missile you can load into the sling.

                        Maybe Ninja Bear is thinking of something like a slingshot rather than a sling?

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Originally posted by Ninja-Bear View Post
                          I don’t believe Strength has anything to do with the sling’s damage potential. It’s momentum which powers the bullet. So have it straight damage?
                          Momentum is mass * velocity.
                          Higher strength allows for more force to be generated, more force results in more acceleration, and more acceleration causes more velocity. Therefore more strength causes more momentum with a sling (or thrown projectile).

                          By contrast, a bow relies upon the elastic properties of the lever-arms to generate force. Too little strength can result in low force but the maximum force a bow can generate is limited by the construction of the bow.

                          Edit: If you have a source with a technical breakdown of how muscle does not affect the lever-action of a sling then I'll be happy to look at it and possibly be proven wrong.
                          Last edited by ValhallaGH; 10-08-2021, 12:24 AM.
                          I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

                          Comment

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