Ballista

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Catapult drawing from “Dictionary of French Architecture from 11th to 16th Century Date 1856

Catapult drawing from “Dictionary of French Architecture from 11th to 16th Century Date 1856

The ballista is a weapon developed from earlier Greek weapons. It relies upon different mechanics, using two levers with torsion springs instead of a prod, the springs consisting of several loops of twisted skeins. Early versions ejected heavy darts or spherical stone projectiles of various sizes for siege warfare. It developed into a smaller sniper weapon.

The Middle Ages

With the decline of the Roman Empire, resources to build and maintain these complex machines became very scarce, so the ballista was supplanted by the simpler and cheaper onager.

Though the weapon continued to be used in the Middle Ages, it faded from popular use with the advent of the trebuchet and mangonel in siege warfare. The crossbow and eventually the longbow supplanted it as sniper weapon. Due to the limited influence of the (now mostly dissolved) Roman Empire, the ballista could rarely be found in use across both Europe and the Middle East in the Middle Ages.

Resembling a massive crossbow, a ballista’s power is provided by twisted skeins of animal sinew used as torsion springs driving a pair of adjustable arms. A cord attached to both arms is winched back and a projectile is loaded into a grooved slider for release. Ballistae are direct-fire weapons.

Ranged Siege Engines
Direct Fire Engines
Large Cost Dmg Critical Range Type1 Crew Aim Load Speed
Ballista, light 500 gp 3d8 19-20/x2 120 ft. P 1 0 2 10 ft.
Huge Cost Dmg Critical Range Type1 Crew Aim Load Speed
Ballista, heavy 800 gp 4d8 19-20/x2 180 ft. P 3 2 3 0 ft.
Gargantuan
Cost Dmg Critical Range Type1 Crew Aim Load Speed
Ballista, gate breaker 1,200 gp 6d8 19-20/x2 100 ft. B 5 3 5 0 ft.

Light: This common type of ballista, also called an arbalest or scorpion, is size Large, maneuverable, and often mounted atop towers or even vehicles. Light ballistae have a hardness of 5 and 50 hit points. Light ballista bolts cost 10 gp each and weigh 10 pounds.

Heavy: These Huge-sized siege engines are commonly used as castle defenses, as well as on large warships. Heavy ballistae have a hardness of 5 and 100 hit points. Heavy ballista bolts cost 30 gp and weigh 20 pounds each.

Gate Breaker: This massive ballista fires specially weighted quarrels with blunt metal tips. These are used as long-range battering rams, shot at walls or the gates of castles. When they hit a wooden structure, they have a critical range of 19–20/×3. Gate breaker ballistae have a hardness of 5 and 200 hit points. Gate breaker ballista bolts cost 50 gp and weigh 30 pounds each.

Section 15: Copyright Notice - Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Combat

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Combat. © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors: Jason Bulmahn, Tim Hitchcock, Colin McComb, Rob McCreary, Jason Nelson, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Sean K Reynolds, Owen K.C. Stephens, and Russ Taylor.

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