Pole Arms and Weapon Frontage (Optional Rule)

Pole arms and similar thrusting weapons are designed primarily for use in highly specialized formations. The average length of these weapons--12 to 20 feet--makes their use in individual combat silly, if not futile.

An opponent can easily slip inside the reach of the pole arm, at which point the poor pikeman can only try to back up or drop his weapon. Little else is likely to be effective. However, if the same man with a pike is lined up with 30 of his fellows in a nice tight formation, he suddenly becomes very dangerous. Where one pikeman presented only a lone spear point, 30 pikemen present a deadly thicket.

The pole arm's big advantage is the small frontage each man needs to be effective. A man using a piercing pole arm can use his weapon effectively with just three feet of space, side-to-side. This allows a tightly packed line of pikemen.

In a group, men armed with pole arms should be set for defense or advancing slowly (1/4 normal movement rate). They automatically make their attack rolls prior to any opponent attempting to close with them. However, after the first round of combat any surviving opponents are inside the reach of the pole arms and the pikemen must drop their pikes and draw weapons more suitable for close-in work.

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