How would you modify a one-handed projectile weapon (preferably a crossbow) to make it trail a long, light string?
Technology Level: Similar to the mid 1800's, but without the discovery of gunpowder or development of modern firearms.
Physics: I'm trying to keep the basic physics of this world as similar to reality as possible, although "magic" will provide a bit of wiggle room here. I'm okay with it not being hyper-realistic, as long as your average college-educated non-expert wouldn't find it ludicrous.
Some Background Info (why I need this):
In this world, certain supernatural abilities are touch-conductive, meaning that they follow rules similar to electrical circuits. Like in electricity, certain materials are more or less conductive to magic.
One guy has figured out that a good way to use his healing abilities over a distance is to just shoot his accomplice with a sharp non-lethal projectile that trails a superconducting string. (Sure, his friend will probably be a little annoyed at first that he has a bolt in his ass, but probably less annoyed after he realizes his internal bleeding is gone.)
The problem is that I'm struggling a bit to understand how crossbows work, and mainly how bolts differ aerodynamically from arrows. I've found that conventional archers can attach string trackers to their arrows, sacrificing some degree of accuracy. However I'm having trouble finding an analogous setup for a crossbow. Is this because the bolt is so much smaller/shorter range than an arrow?
I think that the ideal weapon would have as many of the following characteristics as possible:
- It's capable of being shot one-handed after loaded
- It's as compact as possible so as to draw less attention
- It needs to be able to hit someone 30 yards away (or double that with some extra propulsion from magic*)
- The string needs to be detachable in some way so someone yanking on it from the other end can't play tug-of-war with his weapon
I'm also a little concerned about the projectile itself--namely, how to make sure you don't immediately kill the guy you're trying to heal. At first I thought of putting a stopping mechanism** on it to keep it from going all the way in. However, when I started drawing a diagram to include such a feature, I realized it would probably not work from an aerodynamic point of view.
Instead, could I just make it too short and too light to pierce anything vital? (Hitting someone's eye or even their artery is probably ok.) If not, I guess that's just a risk he's going to have to take!
Thanks for all your help! I have the feeling that the answers are out there somewhere but I'm just missing the vocabulary needed to find them.
*You might wonder why he doesn't just use magic alone to propel his projectile and skip the weapon. As it turns out, this kind of magic is a bit too clumsy and inaccurate to pull this off reliably. It's good at providing strong directional power in certain cases, but the experience would be a bit like trying to shoot an arrow by hitting it with a car.
**What's the word for this?