Clockwork Crossbows

A gnomish invention. Automatically loading crossbows.

weapon (ranged)
Missile Weapons: Dam Type: Dam Amount: Acc: HalfD: Full: RoF: Shots ST: Bulk: LC: Malf: $: Wgt:
Clockwork X-Bow imp thr+4 4 x20 x25 1/2 5(60) 7 -7 4 17 $1500 7/0.06
Pistol Clockwork X-Bow imp thr+2 1 x15 x20 1/2 5(45) 7 -5 4 17 $1500 4.5/0.06

Skills: Crossbow:Clockwork DXE (defaults to Crossbow -2 “familiarity”)
Armory:Clockwork IQA (defaults to IQ-5, Engineer or Mechanic:Clockwork -4, Machinist -5, or Crossbow:Clockwork based on IQ rather than DX for “Immediate Action” and reducing reload time checks)

Using a Clockwork Crossbow: A fully wound crossbow with a full ammunition hopper takes one round to ready as the mechanism is engaged which cocks the bow and loads the first bolt. After that it may fire every other round, automatically cocking and loading the next bolt in between shots until the hopper is empty and the spring has wound down.
Users are cautioned against leaving the mechanism wound up and cocked for long periods as the stress will likely damage the weapon causing decreased performance, malfunction, and breakage.

Reload/Rewind Time: After firing its’ full five shots (known as a “hand full”) the weapon must be reloaded and rewound. This is done with a key or small crank built into the weapon and takes 60 rounds for a crossbow and 45 for a pistol crossbow. Five Quick Draw:X-Bow Bolt skill checks will shave 5 seconds off of this time (1 for each bolt loaded into the hopper). A successful Armory:Clockwork skill check will also reduce the ready time by a number of rounds equal to the success ratio.

Individual bolts may be readied in 12 rounds (11 with Fast Draw) for a crossbow and 9 rounds (8 with Fast draw) for a pistol crossbow with a successful Armory:Clockwork skill check. This time may be reduced further by half the skill check success ratio to a maximum of -3 rounds.

Malfunction: On a roll of 17 or 18 the weapon must roll on the Firearm Malfunction Table (B.p407). Treat “explosion” as a tension snap or pop that will hit anyone within 1 yard with a 1d+1 cutting attack on a 9 or less (half damage at 2 to 3 yards). The weapon is salvageable if it passes a HT 12 check, but will need replacement parts and a craftsman with Armory:Clockwork to repair.

Higher ST: Like regular crossbows, a clockwork crossbow or pistol crossbow can be adjusted by an armorer to a higher ST than the wielder. For +1 or 2 to ST the weapon takes twice as long to ready after reducing time for Fast Draw and such. A +3 or 4 to ST takes three times as long after reducing modifiers and requires a separate crank weighing 2 lbs. More than +4 ST is not possible without some elaborate form of mechanical assistance.

Weapon Quality: Gnomish clockwork crossbows are considered fine quality by default due to the advanced technology and skilled craftsmanship needed to make them. Their combat stats cannot be improved beyond what is given here for any price.


An early version of the clockwork crossbow was first invented almost a hundred years ago by a gnomish Warden captain named Gnelton Kettlecove. Kettlecove was also an amateur inventor, and drew up the plans for his invention while convalescing after a battle with ogre raiders. Several were made, but they never caught on as anything more than a novelty specialty weapon due to their expense and fragility.

About thirty years ago the Patron of Gnalomwier announced plans to improve the nation’s military strength and offered grants to engineers and inventors who could do so. Gnelton’s daughters Gnelissa and Gnavinya Kettlecove improved on their father’s design and presented the first modern prototype clockwork crossbow to the Gnomish Engineering Guilds and the Patron of Gnalomwier. Their presentation was a success and they were granted funds to begin production.

Clockwork crossbows are still slow to make and expensive. Each one must be hand crafted by artisans with very specialized skills. As such they will never go into the sort of mass production needed to equip whole armies with them as a standard missile weapon. Gnalomwier has managed to outfit elite teams of Wardens with them for use in special missions. The Patron’s Elite Guard also have them as do some veteran guards of the engineering and merchant guilds.

The sale of these specialty items outside of Gnalomwier is understandably limited and no force other than those in Gnalomwier mentioned above has them as standard weapons. Never the less, clockwork crossbows are somewhat popular among individuals interested in weaponry and with the coin to afford them.

Over all battlefield performance and reliability is still an issue however. The ability to send five shots in rapid succession is mitigated by the long ready time in between and the proclivity for breakdowns, some of them spectacular. All this has managed to keep the clockwork crossbows less pervasive and somewhat less expensive than they should otherwise likely be.

Still, as a specialty weapon, they are quite sought after by the more adventurous types.

About ten years ago, after market modifications to turn clockwork pistol crossbows into collapsible versions for easy concealment began appearing in Rilth and Treth Rasathk. Examples of these made it back to the workshops in Gnalomwier. The gnome artisans liked the idea and soon began to produce their own line of collapsible clockwork pistol crossbows and break down full size clockwork crossbows available for special orders.

Clockwork Crossbows

Hethrack Ascendant TheGoblyn TheGoblyn