What are they? Bows, slings, crossbows, blowguns and other long ranged weapons. They are identified as ITEM_FIREWEAPON. These weapons can only be used when you are in the back row and someone in your formation is directly in front of you, in the first row; this is called the "ranged position". In order to shoot something from these weapons, you must have the proper type of projectile.
To tell if an item is a projectile, it will show up on identify as ITEM_MISSILE or just use common sense; e.g.,. bows will shoot arrows, crossbows will shoot quarrels or bolts, slings will use stones, etc. If you are in the proper position to use your ranged weapon, you have to have projectiles available. This means they must be loose in your inventory, or in a special container designed to carry them; i.e. a quiver (for arrows and possibly bolts). These items will show up on identify as ITEM_MISCON (short for missile container). You can be wearing the container or simply have it in your inventory. The game will first search for a useable projectile in your missile containers and then move on to your inventory.
Special Notes: If you are in the ranged position and are not wielding a ranged weapon with projectiles, you have 0% chance of attacking your enemies. If you have a normal hand-to-hand weapon, and are anywhere but the front row of your formation, your chances of attacking will be reduced. This reduction is based on the amount of other people in your formation and their position in relation to you. If you have a LONG weapon wielded, you attack equally well from the middle row of the formation as the front. In addition, you will have a greater chance of attacking from the back row.
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