A ballista (pronounced: /bɑːˈlɪstɑːba-LIST-a[4] about this audio file listen, plural ballistae) was a large ranged weapon typically used to lay siege to a fortified structure,[3][5] but it was also used to defend such redoubts.[6][7] They were also mounted on ships for naval combat[8] as well as on spelljammers for battles in space.[2]

Description[edit | edit source]

Ballistae were essentially large, heavy crossbows that were mounted on something sturdy that could withstand the force needed to load and fire the weapon. They could be mounted on heavy carts or wagons, sturdy walls, buildings, or on the decks of ships, for example.[3][5][6][7][8] Ballistae fired heavy bolts similar to a crossbow but on a large scale.[3][5]

The rate of fire of a ballista was relatively slow because it took considerable effort to load and aim the weapon. People of medium and smaller stature were at a particular disadvantage. Large creatures could usually operate a ballista more proficiently.[3] It took a crew of four to man the largest ballistae.[9]

Variants[edit | edit source]

For the outfitting of spelljamming ships, light, medium and heavy ballistae were available. They were successively bigger and did greater harm, but also slower and lesser in range.[2]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Swords of the Iron LegionHalls of the High King
Into the VoidSword PlayDangerous Games
Video Games
Spelljammer: Pirates of RealmspaceBaldur's Gate: Dark AllianceNeverwinter Nights: Tyrants of the Moonsea

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Gary Gygax (1979). Dungeon Masters Guide 1st edition. (TSR, Inc.), p. 108. ISBN 0-9356-9602-4.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Jeff Grubb (August 1989). “Concordance of Arcane Space”. Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space (TSR, Inc.), p. 41. ISBN 0-88038-762-9.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Monte Cook, Jonathan Tweet, Skip Williams (July 2003). Dungeon Master's Guide v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 100. ISBN 0-7869-2889-1.
  4. Frank Mentzer (January 1985). “Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #93 (TSR, Inc.), p. 25.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins, James Wyatt (2014). Dungeon Master's Guide 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 255. ISBN 978-0786965622.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ed Greenwood (April 2001–May 2003). Elminster Speaks archive (Zipped PDF). Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. p. 70. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2016-09-03.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ed Greenwood (2002-11-27). Part #55: Khôltar, Part 6, Looking Around the Farrgaunlar. Elminster Speaks. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2017-10-28.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Curtis Scott (March 1992). Pirates of the Fallen Stars. (TSR, Inc), p. 81. ISBN 978-1560763208.
  9. Nigel Findley (September 1991). Into the Void. (TSR, Inc.), p. 100. ISBN ISBN 1-56076-154-7.
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