This past summer, while visiting Cleveland, I was able to take the time to visit the fantastic Cleveland Museum of Art, and tour it's utterly amazing Armor Court. While full of an impressive array of arms and armor, one piece struck me in particular - an odd, double-stringed crossbow labeled as a "pellet crossbow."
Invented in the late 14th century, and reaching the height of popularity by the late 1700s, the pellet crossbow, also known as a stonebow, was used primarily for hunting or target practice.It is a light crossbow, with a double string holding a pouch or pocket. The stonebow fires small stones, clay pellets or steel bullets, comparable to sling ammunition.
In D&D terms, it is an idea weapon to introduce to a campaign to add to the cleric's list of available weapons. With greater range than a simple sling, the pellet crossbow increases the cleric's effectiveness in missile combat situations. Below, I've statted out this fascinating weapon for OD&D/Swords & Wizardry and Classic D&D/Labyrinth Lord, as well as a more detailed work-up for the Weapons Mastery system of Rules Cyclopedia/Dark Dungeons.
OD&D, Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox Crossbow, Pellet Damage: 1d6-1 Rate of Fire: 1 Range: 50 ft. Weight: 5 lb. Cost: 20 gp Pellets (20) Weight: 1 lb. Cost: 1 gp
B/X, BECMI, Labyrinth Lord Crossbow, Pellet Damage: 1d4+1 Rate of Fire: 1 Range: 60/120/180 Weight: 5 lb. Cost: 20 gp Pellets, Crossbow (10)Weight: 5 lbs. Cost: 1 gp
Rules Cyclopedia, Dark Dungeons Crossbow, Pellet Damage: 1d4+1 Rate of Fire: 1 Range: 50/100/150 Encumbrance: 50 cn Cost: 40 gp Notes: a,c,m,s,2H,M Pellets, Crossbow (30)Encumbrance: 5 cn Cost: 1 gp Level Range Damage Defense Special BS 50/100/150 1d4+1 -- -- SK 50/100/150 1d6+2 M:-1AC/1 Stun(s/m) EX 70/120/160 1d6+4 M:-2AC/2 Stun(s/m) MS 70/120/160 P=2d4+4 M:-2AC/3 Stun(s/m) S=1d8+4 GM 80/130/160 P=2d6+4 M:-3AC/3 Stun(s/m) (P=H) S=1d10+4