From Project: Redcap
The longbow is a medieval weapon commonly associated with England and Wales. Its statistics may be found in the ArM5 rule book, in the Missile Weapon Table on page 177.
Longbows in the 13th Century
Although the ArM5 rule book refers to the "famous English longbow" (page 177), historically the English did not adopt the longbow until after Edward I | conquered Wales in 1283. If historical accuracy is a concern, then the Troupe would be justified in insisting that longbow-wielding characters must be Welsh (or Englishmen from the Welsh Marches).
Note that Welsh longbowmen might travel outside their home country as soldiers-of-fortune, though this would not have been as commonplace in 1220 as a century later, after England had fully embraced the longbow for military use.
Longbow Compared to Crossbow
Compared to the Crossbow, the longbow enjoys -- at least in terms of Ars Magica statistics -- considerable advantages in both rate of fire and range, and is comparable in Damage and cost. Yet, historically, the armies of mainland Europe were outfitted primarily with crossbows rather than longbows. Why would an Ars Magica character ever choose a crossbow in preference to the apparently-superior longbow?
The reasons are unrelated to the game statistics of the two weapons. Historically, one of the main drawbacks of the longbow was the extensive training required. Continental nobles found it more beneficial to rely on mercenary crossbowmen than to accept the cost of training the peasantry. They also relied less on missile weapons overall (compared to England).
Because the longbow is so famously hard to master, some players may feel that its ArM5 statistics make it too accurate in the hands of a poorly-skilled user. One could introduce a House Rule lowering the longbow's Attack value to correct for this.
- ArM5, p. 177
- Lords of Men, p. 138, "Missile Weapon Table" insert (also available in the free supplement)
The history of this page before August 6, 2010 is archived at Legacy:longbow