Last Updated on February 8, 2023
The call to arms sounded. Every able-bodied man was called in from the fields to defend the city walls. The youths were boasting to try and cover up their fear as reports came in of an Orc Warlord razing the countryside.
The old farmers leaned against their bow staffs, as tall as them, calmly smoking their pipes.
The horn sounded and the Orcs could be seen just on the horizon. The Warlord was mounted on a massive Warg, its armor covered in dried blood and grisly totems.
The youths boasting faltered as they came closer into view and the old men simply strung their bows. The eldest licked his finger and tested the wind. As one, the old men drew their bows as the Warlord came closer and as one, loosed their arrows.
Each one struck the Orc Warlord’s central pack, and he suddenly looked like a pincushion. Before he hit the ground, the old men had unstrung their bows and were quietly relighting their pipes.
The mass of Orcs descended into chaos as their leader was struck down. The youths stood there dumbstruck, watching them flee.
What is the Longbow in 5e?
The Longbow is one of the larger ranged weapons in DnD. It can be found in the hands of farmers as well as professional soldiers.
The Longbow is a skilled weapon that historically, has been incredibly deadly and requires a great deal of strength to properly wield. Archeologists have found that the skeletons of Longbow archers had more developed upper bodies due to years of use.
This is why professional armies could not simply train more archers. The skill and strength needed to use a Longbow were developed over years.
Longbow 5e Properties
The Longbow has several properties that make it one of the most useful ranged weapons in DnD. We’ll take a look at its stats and properties below.
Proficiency with a longbow allows you to add your proficiency bonus to the attack roll for any attack you make with it.
|Longbow||50 gp||1d8 piercing||2 lbs||Ammunition, Heavy, Range 150/600, Two-Handed|
The Longbow has a long range of 150/600 ft.
The first number 150, refers to the Longbow’s optimum range. Players can make attacks within 150ft using all of their normal bonuses and stats.
The second number 600ft refers to the Longbow’s Long Range. This is the maximum distance that the Longbow can reach, but each attack made at 151-600ft is done at Disadvantage.
Anything beyond 600ft cannot be hit unless a feat or ability increases a player’s maximum range.
Longbows use arrows as ammunition. Drawing an arrow from a quiver is done as a free action so players will not have to keep track of any additional moves they can simply redraw and knock an arrow after every shot.
There are different types of arrows that can be used both magical and standard. We will go into the various types of ammunition in later sections.
As you might imagine, Longbows are bigger than shortbows. In fact, they are much bigger and they have the Heavy property.
Heavy weapons are so large that they become unwieldy for small-sized creatures. Any small-sized creature using a Longbow makes every attack with Disadvantage. Although it may be funny to try, making a Gnome Ranger character that exclusively uses a Longbow is not going to work out well.
To actually use a Longbow, you’ll need to use both hands. If you find yourself in combat with your hands full, there are a few options you can take.
If you have another weapon in hand, you can use that weapon until you can safely sheath (using an action) or drop it (free action).
If you find yourself out of position and close to enemies, another option is to hit someone with your Longbow. It’s not recommended because it will deal damage according to the Improvised Weapon rules.
Your DM could assign it the same damage as a quarterstaff if the bow is unstrung or a simple 1d4 worth of damage. Either way, it’s not the best use of your attack action and you may end up breaking your bow.
Classes that start with Longbow Proficiency
Although every character can learn to use a Longbow, not every character class starts with Longbow proficiency.
Any class that is proficient with Martial Weapons is proficient with the Longbow and any character that later gains Martial Weapons proficiency also gains proficiency with Longbows. There is no specific skill or feature outside of Martial Weapons Proficiency that players need to use Longbows.
Here are the classes that start with Martial Weapons Proficiency and thus, Longbow Proficiency:
Classes that start with a Longbow
When creating a character, players have the option to choose from a standard set of equipment related to their class or a set amount of gold in which to purchase their starting equipment. Either method is fine, but it’s up to the DM as to which one your gaming group will use.
If you wish to start with a Longbow using the standard equipment rules, there are only 2 classes that can start with a Longbow.
If you so choose, they can both start as level 1 characters with Longbows and a quiver of 20 arrows.
There is only 1 official magical Longbow in DnD, but DMs are free to create their own. The magical Longbow Oathbow can be found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide on page 183.
The Oathbow is a brutal long-range weapon that any ranged specialist will covet.
Not only will you get Advantage on a specific target, but the way it is written grants Advantage to both standard range and long range. That means that players will have Advantage on attack rolls all the way up to 600ft away.
|Properties||Ammunition (range 150/600), Heavy, Two-handed|
|Special||You can use a bonus action to speak this magic bow’s command word, causing flames to ignite on the bowstring. The flames don’t harm you or the bow. While the flames are present, you have advantage on attack rolls made with the bow, and your ranged attacks with it deal an extra 1d6 fire damage on a hit.|
|Rarity||Very Rare (requires attunement)|
|Estimated Value||3,500 gp|
Longbows use standard arrows just like any other bow. They typically cost 1 gp for 20 arrows and weigh about 1 lb.
Any standard shop should in any village or city should carry at least a few dozen bundles of arrows for sale.
There are a few different types of magical ammunition that can be found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. These enchantments can be added to any type of ammunition: arrows, bolts, or bullets.
Ammunition +1,+2, and +3
Standard magical ammunition comes in three varieties, +1, +2, & +3.
As you may imagine, each one grants its respective bonus to both the Attack & Damage rolls, and the higher the bonus, the rarer the ammunition.
These are pretty standard variants that just grant the Magical property for damage resistance and a little bit of an Attack & Damage boost.
These can be found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide on page 150.
“This arrow can’t be broken, except when it is within an anti-magic field.”
The Unbreakable Arrow is another common type of magical arrow. It doesn’t add any damage or attack bonuses, but it allows players to collect their arrows after a fight.
Some tricky players might use an Unbreakable Arrow to wedge a door handle and use its unbreakable properties to their advantage outside of shooting.
These can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything on page 139.
“This ammunition packs a wallop. A creature hit by the ammunition must succeed on a DC 10 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.”
Walloping arrows are an excellent way to help out teammates on the battlefield. If enemies are getting too close, you can attempt to knock them prone to stop them from reaching targets or knock an enemy prone to give Advantage to nearby melee fighters.
These can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything on page 139.
Creating Your Own Magical Longbows & Ammunition
You and your DM can also create your own magical items. This can be especially fun if you have a character designed for Longbow use.
Magical weapons typically have one defining property. Granting too many bonuses can easily break the game and make your characters overpowered.
Some magical properties can include:
- Infinite Arrows
- Transforming Bow
- Extra Damage
- Teleporting Arrows
As a DM, if you don’t want to deal with keeping track of minutiae like the number of arrows a character has, you can easily create enchanted Longbows that don’t require arrows or quivers. They can shoot magical arrows that grant no additional bonuses other than that you always have arrows on hand.
I’ve seen some homebrew magical weapons that transform into others. The Longbow could reshape itself into a quarterstaff and be just as strong without the possibility of breaking or having to use the improvised weapon feature.
Simply adding extra Elemental damage is another fun and easy feature. This can be done with every shot (1d4), or with a limited number of charges per day (1d6), or it could add the damage only on critical hits (1d8).
The damage options should scale with the availability of the extra damage.
Finally, adding some special features to the Longbow, similar to the Oathbow, can be a fun reward for your players. Some examples include:
- Teleporting arrows that ignore Cover
- A bow that allows you limited flight
These types of magical weapons would be rarer than others but would grant one specific type of bonus that’s useful in most situations, but not all.
Best Feats for Longbows
There are a few Feats that are always going to be useful like Lucky or anything that adds to your Dexterity, but there are a few Longbow-specific Feats you need to be aware of that will definitely help improve your shots.
I know this is a guide on Longbows but bear with me on this one.
Crossbow Expert grants 3 buffs, but the only one that matters here is the second one.
“Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose Disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.”
So although the Feat is called Crossbow Expert, the removal of Disadvantage on close-range attacks is universal for all ranged weapons. The other abilities would not apply to a bow, but if you want to always use a bow, even at close range you’ll need this Feat.
Sharpshooter is one of the must-have feats if you want to be a Longbow specialist.
First off, it removes the penalty for long-range shots, so your range with the Longbow is now the full 5-600ft without any penalties. That’s a huge distance.
In addition to this, it also allows you to ignore everything but full Cover. So even if an enemy pops a limb out from behind a tree, you’ll be able to hit them without any penalties.
Finally, if you’re attacking low AC targets, you can sacrifice your accuracy for increased damage.
The Skulker Feat doesn’t exactly add any extra damage to your Longbow shots, but it does make ambushing targets much easier.
You can Hide much more easily using this Feat and if you miss an attack while hidden, the target won’t know where the arrow came from.
It’s great for Longbow archers who want to hit enemies while hidden and combined with the Sharpshooter Feat, you can launch arrows from 600ft away with zero penalties. Nothing is quite as scary to a caravan as arrows falling from nowhere with pinpoint accuracy.
Longbow Character Builds
If you’re looking for inspiration for your Longbow character, this is one of those situations where history is stranger than fiction.
Welsh Longbowmen were feared fighters. When it came time to fight, they stood where they were and shot at incredible distances. Historically, they were able to shoot up to 1000ft which, if you’ve noticed, is about double what DnD attributes the Longbow range.
A character based on Welsh Archers would be a Fighter or a Ranger with maxed-out Dexterity. And the Feats mentioned above.
One of the better-ranged subclasses is the Fighter’s Arcane Archer. While using the range and precision of the Longbow you can also empower each shot with magical effects.
You can basically turn yourself into a magical Hawkeye, but instead of having a quiver full of different arrows, you can simply will your arrows to have different effects.
Rogue may not be the first choice for a lot of players, especially when it comes to Longbow use, but the Phantom works especially well.
They get all the benefits of their sneak attack while being able to hit adjacent enemies with Necrotic damage. There’s nothing quite as horrifying as someone getting hit with an arrow from out of nowhere and then starting to rot away.
Longbow 5e FAQs
Does Longbow use Strength 5e?
No, The Longbow uses Dexterity to calculate Damage and Attack rolls.
Is Longbow a finesse weapon?
No, the Longbow is a Heavy weapon, not a Finesse weapon. However since it is a ranged weapon, the Longbow still uses Dexterity to calculate Damage and Attack rolls.
How does Longbow range work 5e?
The Longbow range is 150/600ft. This means the optimum range to use the Longbow is within 150 ft. When using a Longbow from 151-600ft, all attacks are made with Disadvantage since that is considered its Long Range.
Do you add Dex to Longbow damage?
Yes, Dexterity is added to Longbow Damage rolls. Longbow Damage is calculated as:
(Dexterity Modifier) + Proficiency Bonus (If Applicable) + 1d20 = Longbow Damage