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Playing With / Automatic Crossbows

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Basic Trope: A crossbow capable of fully automatic fire.

  • Straight: The Order of Overwhelming firepower uses a specially-modified crossbow, capable of firing a round a second on full auto.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Members of the order are capable of firing full-auto with ordinary, unmodified crossbows.
    • The Order’s castle is outfitted with Gatling crossbows, complete with exploding bolts, and with underslung grenade launchers.
  • Downplayed:
    • It’s not so much an automatic crossbow as a semi-automatic one: the attached clip greatly reduces reloading time but is still needs to be cocked each shot.
    • The ‘automatic crossbow’ in question is closer to a Hwatcha than an actual automatic weapon.
  • Justified: The crossbow is explicitly magical; maybe it automatically cranks itself far faster than any human can, or it uses magic to propel wooden bolts like some sort of medieval railgun, or it fires magical energy, and is closer to a wand shaped like a crossbow than any historical weapon, or... You get the idea.
  • Inverted: A gun is modified to shoot crossbow bolts.
    • What looks like an automatic firearm requires a laborious pulling back of the bolt after every shot as it is actually a spring-gun.
  • Subverted:
    • A member of the order pulls out a modified crossbow, complete with ammo belt… and then only fires one shot, before lengthily reloading for the next one.
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    • A ballista seems capable of firing very rapidly, but it turns out the crew reloading it are just very fast at their jobs.
  • Double Subverted: The crossbow in question was damaged and a Weapon for Intimidation; an unbroken model is capable of blotting out the sun with its bolts.
  • Parodied:
    • A knight fires his automatic crossbow wildly while screaming his lungs out.
    • An ordinary crossbow is looked at as if it was an automatic weapon, complete with awed cries of “That’s WITCHCRAFT!” when it fires more than once a minute.
    • There are crossbow equivalents of all modern guns, including crossbow pistols, assault crossbows, shotgun crossbows, and even flamethrower crossbows…if you can figure out how that works.
    • The automatic crossbows are incredibly powerful… and incredibly inaccurate. Enemy knights can stand directly in front of the weapon and be missed by every bolt.
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  • Zig Zagged: Some crossbows in-series are capable of automatic fire: however it varies by region, and they’re often fired single-shot in order to conserve ammo.
  • Averted: There is no mention of automatic fire or crossbows, or even the two in combination in-series.
  • Enforced: The writer is adapting a war story that prominently features machine guns into a fantasy setting, and needed an apt replacement.
  • Lampshaded: “Check this baby out: water-cooled, yew-cored, using the finest catgut, capable of firing 60 bolts a minute. That’s 1000% more bolt per minute than the nearest leading competitor!”
  • Invoked: A time-traveling villain designs an automatic crossbow, in order to better apply modem tactics to ancient times.
  • Exploited:
    • A time-traveling hero secretly switches out one of the bolts, so that when one of these weapons is fired it instead sprays splinters in it’s owner’s face..
    • A merchant sells crossbow bolts at a ludicrous markup, knowing that he'll receive regular business with this rate of fire.
  • Defied:
  • Discussed: “I do believe this simple bow of mine will change the face of war forever…”
  • Conversed: “So his crossbow is somehow a machinegun? The depths this show will go for awesome…”
  • Implied: We never see the crossbow fired. We do however, see that it’s hand-cranked, belt-fed, and surrounded by dozens of pincushioned soldiers…
  • Deconstructed:
    • The rapid-fire crossbow single-handedly ends the age of knights and castles: and even the age of longbowmen, as the weapons are both much more effective and much easier to learn to use than the longbow, allowing automatic crossbowmen to supplant all other military roles. Much like in the Stomme, the application of Napoleonic and medieval tactics to automatic weapons results in many massacres, and the inventor of the weapon is horrified by it’s success.
    • An inventor attempts to make an automatic crossbow, but the prototype tears itself apart before it can be fired in any extend period.
    • The high rate of fire and lesser effort to fire means that very little energy is imparted to the bolts. The result is more a toy than anything as it fires a stream of low velocity bolts that go a short distance.
  • Reconstructed:
    • While it’s great for pinning the enemy and massacring unarmoured peasants and horses, the automatic crossbow has awful armour penetration, consumes huge amounts of ammo, and lacks the range of it’s longbow cousin. While it replaces regular crossbows and ballistae, the rapid-fire crossbow ultimate supports, rather than supplants, the normal course of medieval warfare.
    • A magical version is instead invented, and it not subject to the limits of the purely mechanical version. It eventual becomes a legendary weapon in it’s own right, the equal or even superior of the 7 swords of secrets.

Carry a crate of bolts to Automatic Crossbows. Mind the weather, it’s hailing bolts.

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