Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pole Weapons

One thing that struck me in playing Melee was the advantage it gives to pole weapons. Charging or receiving a charge with a pole weapon lets you inflict double damage, giving them a significant advantage in play. This has led Davis O. Miller to rewrite the pole weapons rules, "simply because players started arming everyone with these high damage weapons and ignoring the other weapons."

 But if you think about it, doesn't that reflect the historical reality? The fact is that spears, pikes (or sarissa) and lances were the most common weapons before the introduction of firearms. Hell, even the Vikings used spears as their main weapons. Yet in thinking back I can't remember a single gamer in all my experience who wrote "spear" in the weapons section of their character sheet. Pole weapons were left for monster or NPCs to wield. So maybe there should be a game mechanic giving an advantage to pole weapons.

And while D&D and T&T don't give any bonus for using pole weapons, some games other than TFT already have a rule like this. In RuneQuest pole arms enhance your Strike Rank, while in Elric!/Stormbringer the player with the longer weapon hits first. Action! Syetem has a similar mechanic based on relative weapon length. How do other games handle this? Am I the only one who thinks pole arms should be more common?


Robert Saint John said...

I agree, pole weapons should be deadly and advantageous. I never played in a group that took advantage of the, um, advantage though. I guess pole weapons just don't seem as fun. When I do play, though, I do apply a house rule: if the player gets the double damage bonus against a charging opponent, there is a penalty on the next turn. They either have to spend the turn dislodging the weapon, or change weapons.

Jerry Cornelius said...

That makes sense, since you just impaled someone. I wonder if the reason pole weapons aren't used more in most games is because fantasy fiction tends to glorify swords. LotR swords (or bows), Fahfrd & Gray Mouser swords, Elric/Eternal Champion it's all about swords, baby. And the only time I remember seeing spears in a Frazetta painting was in the hands of cave people.

Robert Saint John said...

Exactly! Now, if "300" had come out in 1979, well, that would have sunk Melee immediately. :)