We had two archers firing at each other in the last game. It seemed like using their Missile Weapon skill as the combat ability for their defense seemed a bit much. I defaulted it to brawl, since you don't usually learn how to avoid attacks while learning a Bow.
Is this what others have found to work or does it tend to work just fine using the bow skill?
Brawl dodging is the by default choice, when the weapon is no use against the attack, IMS.
Yup, Brawl to dodge here too - that's why some characters have dodge as a specialty: they're not going to actually engage in Brawling, but it's good to be able to get out of the way.
Given how archery works, I'm not sure anyone firing a bow has time to "dodge", nor is paying much attention to any incoming arrows (and that's assuming the arrow could be seen and dodged - arrows travel pretty fast, and don't have much of a silhouette when incoming). Does a "Master Brawler" ~really~ have time to dance around like they would in a knife fight?
A flat bonus based on whether the character is standing/sitting could work too.
It's a judgement call.
Since defence against missile weapons has as much to do with using cover as moving, a master archer should be pretty good at making himself a hard target - so I'd say let them use their weaponskills for defence as well.
Given that shields can be raised to glance, deflect and absorb arrows I can easily see an argument for a shields defence bonus to be added. I would also say that superlarge and tower shields could even be used to completely block arrows with a higher initiative.
A shield with a bow is a bit on the fantasy end of things, but AM has fantasy elements.
There is a thing called a... um... /google/... a "pavise", that crossbowmen would use. It's a shield on a stake, that they would stick in the ground and give them a protected position to fire from.
medievalrepro.com/Shields.htm (see bottom)
It's a couple centuries later, but if you're using shields with bows that shouldn't slow you down. Maybe something like that.
If you watch the archer aiming and releasing the arrow at you I think it depend moreon the distance than anything else if you get hit.
Short range: no chance (maybe your brawl score is added to the enemy's target number - at most)
Medium range: Shield cover is best use: The larger the shield, the more you can protect (Tower shield may protect the entire character, small ones: the head, large ones the torso). Thus, these bodyparts cannot be hit.
Far range: It's just a step to the left....: Having enough time to step aside only misfortune (or fortune if your bets are on the archer) can make it happen that you get hit.
Well, since I never was shot at with an arrow I do not know if this is reasonable.
shriek of the impending shafts adds +9 to defence against incomming arrows so I'd say with appropriate cover this could allow you to go into heavy cover.
You must defend with the weapon skill of the weapon you're using at that moment. Which weapon is used against you doesn't matter.
No/light weapon -> brawl
Sword/shield/axe -> single weapon
Large stuff -> great weapon
Bows -> Bows
Javelin/knife -> thrown
IMHO the only exception is that I would always allow for a brawl defense. (even if holding a weapon)
If you train a lot with bows, part of that training will be dedicated to not getting hit. Not just evading arrows, but also dodging sword attacks.
The reason why your defense is lacking is not your weapon skill, it's that you don't have a sword and shield bonus to defense.
While I agree it is a bit silly, the RAW of letting just Combat Ability + Shield (without any Weapon Bonus) act as Defense is, I think, reasonable. Using just Brawl (Dodge) + Shield makes a bit more sense (not much), but means most people won't have a good defense against missiles (which is fine, really). The most 'realistic' way is just to set the EF according to how much cover the target is, and how much is it moving (Athletics?).
Not sure how best to handle this, really. I've always done the Dodge-thing, but the RAW way allows players with a good combat ability to avoid being overly pestered by arrows.
Incidentally, I was certain Bows used Perception and was recently surprised to learn they used Dexterity just like any other weapon. Oh well.
Bows use dexterity? I hadn't noticed that change. Oh well.
My take on combat in ArM:
It's not so important in my saga, so I use the default RAW. It's simple and easy to use. Players don't have to invest too much xp in combat skills, since most characters only use 1 combat skill. (real warriors of course want flexibility and take mupltiple weapon skills)
If your saga revolves around combat, you might want to look into the combat system. But if you use those rules once every two to three game sessions: why bother, just play with it.
Unless when you play around (far less than the 2 or 3 sessions generally) you look a grimace in the face of your players thinking something like "let's hope this torture ends soon because our suspension of disbelief is being tested to the core"