Tired of shooting that bow over the same distance for the same amount of damage? Here are some house rules to change the way bows work. I'll talk about STR, DEX and CON and how they work to turn bows into a more personalized weapon.
I love bows. I love the silence, the skill, and the stealth behind using them. I want my characters to feel it too. So I think bows should work side to side with the character's skills to make him something different. I really like characters that are fleshed out, that have something in particular that makes them stand out. That's why I sat down to make a set of house rules so not all bows feel the same. So here it goes.
I'm going to work with STR, DEX and CON. STR will work with the bow's damage, DEX with the bow's aim and CON with the bow's range. The idea is that higher strength gives you more draw-weight, CON allows for a longer pull (since you tire down slower) and DEX gives you the well know aim.
Lets start with strength. Simple rule is STR adds to your damage. Attribute bonuses are added to the arrow's damage. This represents your character's ability to pull much heavier bows and using heavier arrows that, having more momentum, produce more damage.
Your character's CON increases the weapons range by 10ft per bonus (might want to change it to 5ft for some rules). So an attribute bonus of +2 increases your bow's short/base range by 20ft. This is a representation of being able to do a longer pull on the bow without becoming tired. It's not very realistic ballistics wise, but it represents the long years of training your character has and the benefits this gives on improved character endurance.
DEX adds to your character's ability to aim the bow correctly. This adds the character's DEX bonus to the to hit roll. You're better and sharper at leading the bow on the target so you get a steadier and more precise aim that improves your hit.
Finally there's one extra rule. Damage drops by range. At short range you get the weapon's full damage. Medium range you have a -1 penalty to damage and long range applies a -2 penalty to damage. This will cause some "noise" with version using range increments as per 3.x, but I'm more of the S/M/L range era.
An optional rule is to change range for rate of fire. Cutting range by half allows your character to add one extra attack per round. Sure, that makes medium range into long, but if your character has the stats to compensate for range it can be very good to have that extra attack, no matter the range. For example a character with a bow ranging 60ft might want to cut the range in half because his +2 from CON gives him a 20ft gain. Bringing it back to 50ft range and one extra attack per round.