09 October 2014

Some shit about pollaxes, and then a cool idea about pollaxes.

First, some "real world" stuff and a continuation of a dialog with Spells and Steel.

Here is a generic pollaxe. Now for the boring terminology lesson you don't care about.I'm using some kind of French because the best text or some shit on fighting with a pollaxe against a dude with a pollaxe is written in 14th century French. Get it here. This is also the same weapon that is variously known as a bec de corbin, lucerne hammer, pole-axe, pole-hammer, occasionally battle-axe (which is one of the German words for this type of weapon). I blame the Victorians and the All-Father Gygax for the weird proliferation of names.
Taken from http://talhoffer.blogspot.com/2009/05/what-is-pollaxe.html
The French names are in black. The more descriptive names, that I so helpfully added are in red.

In the simplest of terms, a pollaxe is a spear with benefits. Or in other simple terms, it's great muckin' can opener that can smash, stab, thrust, hook, and block, used by dudes in full armor to fight each other in single combat or to kill peasants etc etc.

The dague and the queue are both used to thrust with, like a spear, into the bits of armor where there isn't armor, like the face, armpits, or groin. Thrusting and maneuvering with the queue is faster because there is less shit there. Simple right?

That spike labeled bec de fauchon? It's not used to hit things persay, but I really don't give a fuck if you want to say it is, or if you use it like that in your reenacting or when playing D&D. For purposes of this blog entry, YOU DO NOT USE THE BEC TO STRIKE. It is used to hook limbs and weapons, like the crook of the knee or the neck. This weapon is in addition to being a big ass impact weapon is a big ass lever used to trip and initiate a grapple, usually by tripping and throwing someone to the ground.

Sometimes the bec is replaced with a taillant which is French for axe blade or something. The French word for axe is hache, or so I have been lead to believe. Anyways, the taillant is used just like the bec when fighting another asshole in armor, hooking and the like. Like why would try to hit someone with your axe blade if you a perfectly good rough surfaced hammer head opposite.

This brings us to the mail, which is as I have been lead to believe, the French word for hammer. You use this part to hit people. It usually has a variety of short spikes, or even longerish spikes, to make it stick better when striking against armor. This means it's less likely to glance off of the armor and therefore makes it deliver more force into the dude's body, while battering their armor up. Good places to hit someone with armor their hands, the plates are thinner, the elbows, even if you don't really hurt them you might bend the plates up enough to hinder their movement more, and the head, because concussions.

Sometimes there are unholy abominations that have an axe blade and a bec de fauchon. I don't really know what is going on there. Axe blade and hammer make sense because you might only have one axe and you want to be able to do some friendly foot combat or even lethal foot combat with another knight, so you need the hammer head to injure him and the axe blade to hook shit, while still having the axe blade to chop of lesser armored troops when you in an actual battle because that's what knights do, sometimes.

I could go into depth about all the gajillion techniques you can use while fighting with an axe, but to be honest, there are books on that subject, books on those books, and books explaining how to use those books. There are also people who will be more than willing to teach those things face to face. I can't currently because I am not allower to do high impact activities until I decide to get surgery on the ankle the Army helped destroy.

But really, unless you want to get really nitty gritty about fighting with weapons in your RPGing, just knowing roughly how they work is more than enough. It hits people, you can stab with it, and you can trip people or disarm them with it.

Second, look at this fucking thing, and some gamable shit from it.
http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Talhoffer_Fechtbuch_%28MS_Thott.290.2%C2%BA%29
This is a pollaxe. A modular pollaxe. And it looks cool. Even in the bolts look cool. While a magical sword being magical because its blade is magical for whatever reason makes sense in that swords were, and still are in many cases, peened and riveted and other wise (semi)permanently assembled. Here is a weapon of multiple parts that can be assembled and disassembled. Each piece could magical in its own right. The dague or the queue could be ancestral bronze daggers that once accompanied heroes into battle or on adventure against great beasts. The bolts could be custom made from thunderbolts, or scavanged from a giant knight's armor, or even from an ancient golem. Each piece could be given a history, which could be done for any weapon, but the potential to have more than one mail, dague, queue, or even bolts, brings to my mind an idea of knights and kings with collections of pieces that they select from to make their axe ready for a specific event, tourny, list, battle, or siege.
This could easily give rise to another variation of the "golf bag" syndrome, by which certain characters end up lugging around multiple specialized weapons of a same or similar type. But who cares. Maybe you have a player whose character loves his hafted weapon, the party finds a magical dagger of dubious enchantment that the player whose character uses daggers doesn't want. Maybe the pollaxe wielder decides to search for a smith capable of making it a part of their pollaxe. Or maybe the party finds, or kills a knight with, a pollaxe with one or more magical weapon components. Well shit, find a smith capable of taking it apart. The wizard gets staff suitable for making into a WIZARD STAFF. The thiefy person gets one or more stabby daggers of stabbing. Get a new shorter handle and the cleric gets a new warhammer, or the fighter gets a new battle axe.

Alright, let's try to make some fucking tables and shit for this.
Looking at the illustration, let's say there are 6 pieces that would standard pieces: the hammer head/axe blade/crow beak, the dague(top stabby thing), the queue(the bottom stabby thing), the haft, and two different bolt and nut pairs.

Roll 1d6 times. Reroll on douplicates, or don't. Or flip a coin. Or make up your own table.
  1. Dague
  2. Head ( 1-2 hammer and spike, 3-4 axe and hammer, 5-6 axe and spike)
  3. Haft
  4. Queue
  5. Dague bolt
  6. Queue bolt
I recommend that both spikes be generated as magical daggers unless you roll up a dague and haft or queue and haft combintation, then 50% chance that it's a magical spear, with the other 50% being the haft and stabby bits are magical items separately. You could even decide that 75% of dagues or queues are as magic daggers and 25% are as magic swords.

I also recommend that hammer and spike be rolled as a magic warhammer, the axe and spike as a battle-axe, and 50% of axe and hammer combinations are magical axes with the other 50% warhammers.

I don't even know for the haft. 80-90% magical quarterstaffs with the remainder magical staves of the spell casting type. (FUCK YEAH!!! WIZARD KNIGHT BLASTING FIREBALLS FROM HER POLLAXE!!!!)

Use miscellaneous/wondrous items for the two bolts, or maybe rings.

Using the table...

I rolled a 5

My five rolls are 1,2,3,4,6. I rolled a 2 for the head so it's of the hammer and spike variety.

I'm going to be a bit boring and use DCC sword magic for the queue, the AD&D DMG for the rest of the parts except for the dague.  Which I will be pull from Spells and Steel's magical items idea, the sword that is impossibly thin and seems to fade to nothing that makes the wielder impossible to hit by only one opponent, but only as long as the wielder does not attack. I will top it off using Hack and Slash's magic weapon table 1, and table 2 to provide some flavor for the various bits, either separately or as a whole.

So first the queue...
Ignoring the roll for type even though it would be hillarious to have some weird ass pollaxe that has a two-handed sword as the queue...53 longsword, because the idea of this being giant's pollaxe is kind of fucking cool.
Alignment...22 chaotic. Probably a giant/demon knight's weapon now.
Alas 04, so it is only a +1 weapon with 4 Intelligence, with one special purpose, but it does have a special power.
It's special purpose to is free all prisoners. But it's special power is the extremely useful reading any non-magical map at will. Awesome, except the queue can't communicate at all. Maybe it's intelligent but has gone mad being unable to talk and wishes to free everything from life eventually destroying itself.

Next the head...
Ok, the AD&D DMG just has misc weapons...
+1 hammer, +2 hammer, +3 hammer of dwarven throwing, and hammer of thunderbolts.
1d4 roll later....+1 hammer...sigh
Ok..let's see if it's intelligent too...25...so no.

Lets see what the haft is...91...oh no time to roll Rods, Staves, and Wands...
36...wand of enemy detection...that somehow still has 99 charges.


For the final component, the magical queue bolt, I will just roll from DMG table III and see where it takes me.
67 Armor and Shields.
74 Studded Leather +1. Ok so maybe the bolt was once part of a magical suit of studded leather and now contains all that protective magic, thereby improving the Armor Class of the wield by 4 points, 3 from the studded leather and 1 from the magic.

I've decided to roll for the appearance of the dague, queue, and head separately.

The dague is simply a shard of straight bladed glass that fades to nothingness.
The head of made of mundane steel.
The queue is crystal grown into an wavy shape that when seen out of the corner of the eye appears to undulate and rotate.
The haft is straight shaft of coral.
The bolts are both polished bronze.

I am torn between making this pollaxe the pollaxe of a titanic knight, or ignoring that part so it is merely a weird weapon that some knight of faerie might be wielding.

Overall this is an intelligent, in part, weapon with two of the business ends being +1 weapons, that can be used to detect enemies, provides an additional 4 points of AC (which is nice since it's a two-handed weapon), and if the wielder wishes a single opponent will not be able hit them, provided they do nothing but defend with it.

I close with some weird pollaxes and some bloody shankings.