To Siege Engines

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Attack on the Walls of a besieged Tower (shows a battering ram).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A battering ram is a siege engine originating in ancient times to break open fortification walls or doors.

In its simplest form, a battering ram is just a large, heavy log carried by several people and propelled with force against an obstacle; the ram would be sufficient to damage the target if the log were massive enough and/or it were moved quickly enough, i.e. had enough momentum.

In a more sophisticated design, a battering ram was slung from a wheeled support frame by ropes or chains so that it could be much more massive and also more easily swung against its target. Sometimes the ram's attacking point would be reinforced with a metal head and vulnerable parts of the ram might be bound with metal bands. Many battering rams had protective roofs and side-screens covered in materials, usually fresh wet hides, presumably from the animals eaten by the besiegers, to prevent the ram being set on fire, as well as to protect the operators of the ram from enemies firing arrows down on them by allowing them to seek shelter within the battering ram structure. The image of the Assyrian battering ram shows how sophisticated attacks and defenses had become by the 9th century BC. The defenders are trying to set the ram alight with torches and have also put a chain under the ram. The attackers are trying to pull on the chain to free the ram, while the aforementioned wet hides would protect against the fire.

In castles, defenders attempted to foil battering rams by dropping obstacles in front of the ram, such as a large sack of sawdust, just before it hit a wall, by using grappling hooks to immobilize the log, by setting the ram on fire, or by sallying to attack the ram directly.

Some battering rams were not slung from ropes or chains, but were instead supported by rollers. This allowed the ram to achieve a greater speed before striking its target and was therefore more destructive.

Variations on the battering ram included the drill, the mouse, the pick, and the siege hook. These were smaller than a ram and could be used in more limited spaces.

Battering rams had an important effect on the evolution of defensive walls.


The most basic close assault weapons are iron-shod logs carried by one or more creatures to combine their Strength. A ram can be used to deal damage or to make a Strength check against the target’s break DC.

Ramming Charge: Rams require momentum to be effective. All creatures using the ram must use the charge action to gain its full effect. Creatures not wishing to charge may make a ram attack as a full-round action, taking a –4 penalty on attack and damage rolls and Strength checks with the ram.

Breaking: The crew leader makes a Strength check with a +2 bonus, adding +2 for each member of the crew (or equivalent number of larger creatures; see Crew) assisting. The ram also provides a +4 bonus per size category above Medium.

Damage: The crew leader makes an attack roll with a –4 nonproficiency penalty. A hit deals the listed damage, plus the Strength modifiers of the crew leader and all members of the crew, regardless of their size.

Improvised Ram: Any tree, log, or timber can be used as a ram with a –4 penalty on attack and damage rolls and Strength checks.

Pick: A ram with a pick head grants a +2 circumstance bonus on Strength checks and attack and damage rolls made against stone structures.

Screw: A ram with a screw head grants a +2 circumstance bonus on Strength checks and attack and damage rolls made against earthen structures.

Gallery Ram: This is a ram suspended from chains or ropes within a gallery. A gallery ram does not require a charge action for full momentum. In addition, adding tethers to the back end of the ram allows four additional crew members to assist in using the ram.

Hit Points: Rams have a hardness of 5 and hit points based on their size. A Large ram has 30 hit points, a Huge one has 120 hit points, a Gargantuan one has 320 hit points, and a Colossal one has 625 hit points. Improvised rams have half the normal hit points.

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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To Siege Engines

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