Though I’ve long resisted the temptation, I’ve finally given in and am going to try an archer class for B/X D&D. I have been trying to stick to BTB as much as possible, even dialing back some of my longstanding houserules in order to remain as closer to rules as written. While the standard fighter is perfectly capable with missile weapons and a player is obviously free to choose to use bows instead of swords, the fighter’s prime requisite of Strength (and the potential XP modifier) has always bothered me. One option would be to allow a fighter’s player the option of choosing Dexterity instead of Strength for prime requisite, of course. But back in the olden days my brother had an archer class and I decided that I’d write one up and give it a shot on a trial basis in my B/X game.
This archer class is basically a fighter with d6 hit dice that can’t wear plate mail or use shields or heavy two-handed melee weapons and has a prime requisite of Dexterity instead of Strength. There are no fancy missile bonuses or extraordinary abilities, so the XP requirements are lower than for a standard fighter. The goal is to have an archer fighter-type that is uncomplicated and quick.
Also, I have made the class available to elves. Firstly, this is an obvious choice, as elves have long been portrayed as archers in fiction. Secondly, despite B/X’s “race-as-class” approach to demi-humans, I’ve always described dwarves as “dwarven fighters,” halflings as “halfling fighters,” and elves as “multi-classed elven fighter/magic-users.” So, similar to how dwarf-classed characters pay a 200 base XP penalty compared to fighters, I’m applying a 200 base XP penalty for elven archers compared to human archers.
Does this mean that I will allow other class selections for demi-humans? No. Not right now.
Anyway, we’ll give this class a spin for a while and see how it goes. If anyone needs an archer class in their game and gives this a try, please let me know how it goes.