What kind of Bow skill did Robin Hood have?

by mshrm

One of my players was asking about the GURPS-ification details of Robin Hood’s feat of archery, where he split his opponent’s arrow with his own. What level of Bow skill would it take to perform the trick?

Luckily, I’ve got a copy of the 3rd edition GURPS Robin Hood, so I can cheat. The stats given there for the class “yeoman” version of Robin show Bow (Longbow)-25… spending 64 points for it, even after paying for DX 17!  According to the sidebar on page 26, this level of skill was considered “conservative”.

Let’s see how 4th edition Robin stacks up.

Again, the sidebar from page 26 provides some details. The target was at a distance of 150 yards, for a range modifier of -11.  An arrow has a diameter of a quarter inch, giving -14 for target size. At least the target’s not moving. That’s a total of -25. I think that stacks up well against some of the stuff Legolas pulls off in the movies.

The longbow from the Basic Set has an Acc of 3. (Interestingly, the 1/2D range for a longbow built for a ST 10 wielder works out to 150 yards, the range to Robin’s target. I do not think this a coincidence.) Robin likely invested in a Fine bow, which might have improved his 1/2D and Max ranges, but this would have no effect on accuracy. With three or more seconds of Aiming, this would give a bonus of +5. Net modifier stands at -20.

Since Robin wasn’t looking to avoid any sudden attacks, he likely took an All-Out Attack (Determined), picking up an additional +1, bringing his net modifier to -19.

It’s standard to assume that target shooting on the range is more accurate than shooting during a life-and-death battle. (See this post and this one here, for example.)  A +6 to +8 modifier accounts for knowing the distances involved (as opposed to eyeballing it at the time), not being nervous or concerned about the outcome, not being in fear of immediate death or dismemberment, and so forth. In Robin Hood’s case, though, we’re not talking about a day plinking on the range, but a high-stakes contest. I would still call it a bonus, but not such a large one. Let’s cut the modifiers in half, calling it +3 to +4, and then err on the side of higher skill, and call it a final +3. Now the net modifier is down to -16.

So the answer is, Robin Hood had enough skill to absorb a -16 penalty and still succeed. He could have as low as a 19 base skill and still make the shot on a roll of 3. If you figure his effective skill, in the end, was 9 or less, he must have had a starting skill roll of 25. Making the shot would then be a happy surprise, not a miracle. If your Robin Hood could make shots like that all day long, one right after another, like something from a cartoon, then he must have a starting roll of over 30. Some depictions of comic book archers like Green Arrow and Hawkeye probably end up around that high. The stats I used for Hawkeye, during the 1200 point supers game, had a 25.