The Genoese balestrieri or crossbowmen are drawn from villages and towns throughout Liguria, but are all trained and organized in Genoa. Highly disciplined and skilled, the crossbowmen fight on either land or at sea in Trained Groups of up to 5 individuals.
These statistics reflect an experienced marine found aboard the commune’s war galleys or a veteran mercenary of several campaigns. For a low-ranking officer, add 8 years to Age and increase Bows to 8, Brawl to 4 and Athletics, Folk Ken and Leadership each to 3. Such leaders may have Excellent or Superior Quality armor and other equipment.
Companies of mercenary crossbowmen are usually led by a member of one of the noble merchant families of Genoa. These captains are best created as individual Companion level characters and mainly have skills in Leadership, tactics and diplomacy rather than an aptitude for fighting.
Characteristics: Int 0, Per +2 (+1), Pre -1, Com 0, Str +1, Sta 0, Dex +2, Qik +1
Age: 26 (26)
Virtues and Flaws: Wanderer; Affinity with Crossbows, Warrior, Well-Traveled; Craving for Travel*, Vow (loyalty to the commune): choose 1 Minor General or Personality Flaw to individualise the character.
Personality Traits: None
Dodge: Init +0, Attack n/a, Defense +4, Damage n/a
Dagger: Init +0, Attack +8, Defense +5, Damage +4
*Arbalest: Init +7 (+10), Attack +15 (+17), Defense +9, Damage +10
Soak: +6 (chain hauberk, open helmet)
Fatigue Levels: OK, 0, –1, –3, –5, Unconscious
Wound Penalties: –1 (1–5), –3 (6–10), –5 (11–15), Incapacitated (16–20), Dead (21+)
Abilities: Area Lore: Liguria 3 (towns), (Area) Lore 2 (battles) x2, Athletics 2 (long marches), Awareness 2 (keeping watch), Brawl 3 (dagger), Carouse 2 (games of chance), Craft: Crossbow-making 2 (superior quality), Craft: Fletching 2 (superior quality), Crossbows 7 (arbalest), Folk Ken 2 (prostitutes), Italian 5 (Ligurian), Leadership 1 (combat), Lingua Franca 3 (slang), Stealth 3 (ambushes), Sailor 2 (galleys), Swimming 2 (endurance), Survival 2 (sea).
Equipment: light metal helmet and gorget, chain hauberk, dagger, Balistai crossbow** and bolts, pavise (large free-standing shield)***
Encumbrance: 2 (6)
Appearance: clad in partial chain with an overlying leather tunic, the balestrieri typically carries his pavise slung across his back when not stored in baggage.
* See Grogs, page xxx for details of this Minor Flaw.
** The high quality crossbows produced by the master craftsmen of the Balistai corporation are the equivalent of windlass spanned arbalests (see Lords of Men, page 138-139) of Excellent Quality, providing a +3 bonus to Attack and Defense rolls (in parentheses above). On land, select balestrieri use similar heavy arbalests (add +2 Dam, increase range to 30 to 35 and requires Str +1 to use) but the majority of the marines prefer the lighter weapon.
*** Rather than provide the normal benefits of a held shield, a properly placed pavise provides the benefit of Three-Quarters Cover and Medium Concealment (+15 Defense bonus, +3 Melee Attack bonus). The bottom spike helps the shield to be set as cover, allowing the balestrieri to readily reload safely and then pop-up to shoot before stepping behind cover to reload again. More well-equipped crossbowmen have a groom or pavisier to hold their pavise steady or reload in between volleys.
Design note: this crossbowman is based on the Welsh Bowman from “The Champion’s Portion” in ToME, page 26 and adjusted using the rules in the recent Grogs supplement.