For a full list of crossbow perks, see here.

As with an archer build, choosing a crossbow as your main weapon in Bannerlord is entirely viable. The main differences between an archer and a crossbow build come in the form of projectile type, the speed of the weapon (both in firing and reloading), aim gauging, and of course the perk tree. The most significant advantage of a crossbow over a bow is perhaps the more powerful impact of bolts. A bolt from a crossbow will more easily penetrate heavy armour than an arrow from a bow will. The bolt will also release from the crossbow more quickly than an arrow from a bow will, but the reload time will be longer for the crossbow to begin with. In terms of aim gauging, you won’t need to account as much for where you aim around the hitbox of an opponent in relation to their movement. In general, a powerful crossbow allows you to aim more directly at an enemy regardless of distance, whereas a bow will require you to consider distance more carefully and adjust aim accordingly. Shooting and moving with a crossbow is perhaps more difficult than it is with a bow. The ability to intuit the way in which a bolt will fire from a crossbow as you attempt to avoid enemies will take some time to develop if you’re familiar with archery. As with an archer build, you should consider recruting troops which will serve to protect you and other ranged units from enemy infantry and cavalry, with at least 10% of your army consisting of cavalry and 30% of infantry. However this will vary depending on your playstyle.

If you want to focus on creating a crossbow build, you will benefit from selecting the following background skills during character creation (for a full breakdown of background skills, see Defining Background Skills):

  • Family - Mercenaries: +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Roguery and Crossbow. 1 Attribute Point to Control.

  • Early Childhood - Your attention to detail: +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Athletics and One-Handed weapons. 1 Attribute Point to Control.

  • Adolescence - At the town watch’s training ground: +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Crossbow and Tactics. 1 Attribute Point to Control.

  • Youth - Stood guard with the garrisons: +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Crossbow and Engineering. 1 Attribute Point to Intelligence.

  • Young Adulthood - You survived a siege: +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Bow and Crossbow. 1 Attribute Point to Control. +5 Renown.

  • Story Background - You drove them off with arrows: +10 Skill Level and 1 Focus Point to Bow and Tactics. 1 Attribute Point to Control.

Note: These background skills are recommended based on the core improvements to this specific combat type. You may wish to select different skills to balance other areas of development in trade, crafting, social, and leadership abilities depending on your preferences. Not all options improve crossbow skill, but instead focus on its associated attribute: Control.

Selecting these background skills will provide you with the highest skill with crossbows and its associated attributes, skills, and perks at the beginning of the game. You can then gradually improve your skill in crossbows by investing attribute points in Control and skill points in crossbow combat. This will increase the learning rate of of that particular skill, allowing you to level it faster as you use crossbows in battle scenarios. The more frequently crossbows are used, the faster your skill level with them will increase. This applies even to the amount of times that you execute a successful shot with the crossbow. The most experience is earned upon successful hits, especially if you are able to kill one or more enemies with one hit, but you can also earn experience by using the crossbow in general during a lull in fighting.

The Crossbow perk tree will allow you to increase speed, accuracy and damage with crossbows. For example, at level 25 you can select Fast Reload, which provides a 10% increase to reload speed. This can be increased by a further 10% by selecting Hasty Reload at level 50. At level 125 the perk Improved Aim allows you to gain maximum accuracy with the crossbow 10% faster. This means that the cursor will completely stabilize 10% faster, allowing you to quickly aim and shoot with accuracy after reloading. Level 150 provides access to Maintenance, which grants a 7% damage increase with crossbows. At level 250 you can select Without Honor, a perk which increases damage dealt to enemies from behind by 20%.

In addition to the above personal buffs to crossbow use, the crossbow perk tree also provides buffs to allied troop and debuffs to enemy troops. For example, at level 175 the cost of crossbow unit recruitment for both your party and allied governors is reduced by 20% with the perk Recruiter. Level 200 provides access to Renowned Marksman, which grants a 5% increase to experience earned by ranged troops at the end of a battle. At level 225 the perk Volley Commander becomes available, which increases reload speed for all ranged troops in your party by 10%. In terms of debuffs, level 275 provides the powerful Bone Bolts perk. This reduces enemy morale by 1 point each time you kill someone with a crossbow on the battlefield, allowing you to overcome the odds when you’re outnumbered if you can kill a lot of troops at the beginning of a battle.

In terms of equipment for a crossbow build, as with any other build there are 4 weapon slots to utilise. In theory you can choose to equip a crossbow in slot 1 and then fill 2, 3, and 4 with crossbow bolts. This will allow you to use the crossbow for the longest possible time in a battle, and may be especially useful in long siege defences. The only drawback to this approach is that you won’t have a guaranteed melee weapon to defend yourself if enemy troops get too close. You will be able to pick up any melee weapon on the battlefield when your bolts are depleted, but if you want to ensure that you don’t find yourself wandering for a weapon in vain, it is a good idea to have at least one melee weapon equipped at all times. If for nothing else, having a melee weapon ensures adaptability in a tight spot, while allowing you to switch things up if you want to enter the thick of battle.

Tip: If you plan to create a horse crossbow build, it is worth considering using a weapon with sufficiently long reach to switch to melee cavalry charges when necessary. Polearms are generally preferred on horseback, but you can use one-handed or two-handed weapons if you adjust to the required reach for a successful hit.

It is not currently possible to craft crossbows in Bannerlord, but there are some which you can find from battlefield loot, and from marketplaces, which will serve you well:

  • Hickory Crossbow
Speed Pierce Damage Accuracy Missile Speed
62 93 99 90
  • Fine Crossbow
Speed Pierce Damage Accuracy Missile Speed
61 95 99 93
  • Bound Crossbow
Speed Pierce Damage Accuracy Missile Speed
63 100 100 97

The number of crossbows in Bannerlord is currently limited, but the above three are currently the best to be found. In terms of available bolts, there are even less to choose from. All bolts currently do the same amount of damage, and only differ in the number that they can be stacked to. Unfortunately these stacks are not currently differentiated by name, so you will need to search each marketplace and look out for the bolts which allow for the most amount to be stacked.

These crossbows are not too difficult to find in the early game, and with the exception of the Bound Crossbow are relatively affordable compared with bows. Each can be found on the battlefield, especially after fighting a lord. It is therefore recommended that you join a faction and participate in a large battle with an ally lord against an enemy lord as soon as possible. This will allow you to earn a lot of money in a short amount of time, while also providing you with an opportunity to loot some of the best items with little effort.

Guide Information

  • Publisher
    TaleWorlds Entertainment
  • Platforms
    PC, Steam
  • Genre
    Action RPG, Sandbox
  • Guide Release
    23 April 2020
  • Last Updated
    14 October 2020
    Version History
  • Guide Author
    Scott Peers

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The empire of Calradia is plagued by inner conflict, tearing the structure of the old order as new lines are drawn on the map. The chaos creates a dangerous world, with opportunities to capitalise on the uncertainty of the future. Control trade routes to manipulate production and distribution of resources, join factions to gain renown and influence world politics, or create your own clan to build a world of your own. Whatever path you choose, this guide will help you to understand the intricacies of the Bannerlord economy, combat, factions, skills and perks, tactics, troop types, character builds, smithing system, quests, and much more to ensure that you are never left wondering what to do next, or how you might go about doing it.

  • Guide to quests for each region, includes main quests and side quests
  • Guide to combat system, includes basic and advanced techniques for different weapons
  • Guide to combat tactics, includes how to organise troops on the battlefield and simulation battles
  • Guide to attribute, skill, and perk systems, includes recommended perks for each character build
  • Guide to companion system, includes where to find the best companions and how to get the most out of them
  • Guide to the economy system, includes detailed description of trade system and each method for gaining wealth

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