*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 10, 2022, 09:48:39 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 72 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: Polearms  (Read 8121 times)
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« on: August 28, 2002, 12:59:04 AM »

Well, I went to visit Warwick castle last weekend, and quite entertaining it was too.  There was a brief bit of jousting and so forth, and more interestingly, a short demo of some polearm fighting and a discussion of how to get your armour made which absolutely screams Plot Device.

http://www.warwick-castle.co.uk/castle/castle.html

Specifically, the era we are talking about, in polearm terms, is the War of the Roses, in which Warwick was a significant player, and hence we are talking about heavily armoured knights on foot.  The foot combat display included a brief 4-on-4 skirmish between the respective "sides" and the interesting bit was the carriage of the polearms.  OK, so they were being safe, but they held and used the axe in much the way you might hold a broom or a rake, head downwards and aimed at the oppositions feet.  The grip is well down the shaft and very wide.  The obvious "kill routine" would be to hook/hamstring the back of an enemies knee, and half-step forward for a downward lunge to the vitals.  Most parries were done by catching the enemies blade on your blade.  The exchange is by no means slow - this is not a heft-and-swing technique, its a short, jabby, darting type of usage.  This also means that the potential reach of the polearm is not that significant; its front length only needs to extend 3 or 4 feet from the front grip, possibly less.  But of course it can still be used to quickly thrust to the face or something similar, the grip is well positioned for that.

There was also a 1-on-1 duel featuring the lighter-headed polearms, notably the infantry hammer.  This was a more free-wheeling style that looked a lot like a quarterstaff or bo-stick duel.  Parries were mostly taken on the haft held two-handed and widely; the light head with spike and hammer could still easily be brought into play.  Again, the reach was not as long as one might expect because the polearm is not in fact being used anything like a spear or indeed and axe.  Again, the spike on the end is probably best used against a prone opponent when you can put all you weight behind a downward stab.

The reason I mention all of this is partly out of shared interest, and partly because, having seen this now, Polearm is probably not the right proficiency for the dane-axe, which WAS used like an axe.  (It's also clear to me that a woodmans axe cannot be used as an improvised polearm; the head is completely the wrong shape, the balance is all wrong).  Also, it would seem now that arguably the most effective offensive technique for which the polearm is optimised is that trip-and-lunge thing, and that polearms should probably get a lot of bonusses for tripping attempts.
Frightening weapons, I must say.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
ShaneNINE
Member

Posts: 74


WWW
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2002, 05:26:59 AM »

Very cool post. Thanks!
Logged

::: Shane
Jasper
Member

Posts: 466


WWW
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2002, 06:07:17 AM »

Nice, detailed observations, contracycle.  A word of warning though: I was at Warwick a few weeks ago myself, and the only fighting and jousting I saw were not what you'd call historically accurate.  Safety and full coreography aside, their aim seemed to be only to impress the audience with flashy moves and jumping around -- very Hollywoodish, if I dare use the term.

Maybe they had on a better show that you saw -- in which case I'm mad I didn't get to see it! -- but otherwise I'd be cautious of drawing too many conclusions based on their actions.  If you're in England, you should visit the Royal Armouries in Leeds: they have very good, non-choreographed, historically accurate demonstrations every weekend.  Talk to Andy Dean if you get the chance.
Logged

Jasper McChesney
Primeval Games Press
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2002, 07:43:47 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
...and a discussion of how to get your armour made which absolutely screams Plot Device.


Could you elaborate? Sounds interesting.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2002, 08:33:45 AM »

Jasper:
I agree with your caution.  The jousting was visibly staged, but the "Fighting Knights" demo, while choreographed, was apparently more authentic.  That apologia said, the interesting bit to me was the stand and the grip, even if the actual clashing of blade heads was staged.  Theres a huge difference in seeing the polearm as a pike with an axe-head and seeing it as a quarterstaff with a spike.

I can't believe I forgot the bit about the armour.  The suit the guy was wearing was claimed to be authentic, and he said that it would have cost the equivalent of 250,000 today.  (Hehe - now check D&D's dollar equivelent GP cost for full plate).  This is about equivalent to buying a luxury sports car, and now as then you would go to one of two destinations to get it: Italy or Germany.  Artisans manufacture a lifesize wax effigy of you which is placed in the care of your most trustworthy retainers and sent to the armourers.  The round trip will take two years and you'd better watch the feasting in the interim, or it won't fit when you get it.

So, there can be few better opportunities for getting characters into trouble.  Make them the retainers and send them on a highly secret mission transporting a delicate and bulky cargo on a two-year journey.  Furthermore, of course, it's just got to be the most pefect sympathic magic focus thing imaginable; how frightened would you be if you knew that a to-the-millimetre copy of yourself had fallen into the hands of your hated enemy and his sorcerous accomplice?  Very, I'd bet.  And knowing that, how frightened are you if you lose your masters effigy over the side of a ship, or its covered cart is stolen by bandits?  Where they even bandits?  And yoyu've got to keep the blasted thing intact and untouched all they there and, at least, safely disposed then.  And thats not to mention the fact that you were probably carrying the money, as well.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2002, 09:48:43 AM »

Sweet, that is pretty cool. Had no idea they used effigies.

I always wonder about those quarter of a million pounds figures. I agree that such suits were expensive, but comparisons are difficult. Do you know how they came up with tha figure?

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
GhostShip Blue
Guest
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2002, 10:17:10 AM »

Thanks for the insight into polearms. As a Yank who went to Public (in the British vernacular) school at Wycliffe College in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire and broke out for long enough to see Warwicke Castle I was stunned to see it crop up. No combat demonstration the day I was there though.

The armor plot ideas are brilliant! I was looking for a good way to introduce a nasty sorcerer villian, and you've solved that for me. Thanks

I have a few thoughts/questions about the use of polearms though.  While I understand that massed formations of pikes were fairly common (especially after the advent of the long bow) is the same true for other polearms? It seems an odd design decision to make weapons that don't take advantage of the leverage available through the long haft. A similar question plagues me about the axe blades as well; why invest the time, effort and materials into "features" that aren't used (insert requisite Microsoft joke). Were these "design flaws" in the early models it seems likely that later incarnations of axe-bladed and other long polearms would be more functional, effective and economic forms.

Granted, these observations are made without the benefit of having seen a demonstration of any variety, but it strikes me as odd that they weren't used (at least secondarily) in the methods/roles we assume to be "traditional".

Graham
Logged
Lyrax
Member

Posts: 268


« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2002, 03:38:43 PM »

All the features on any weapon that you can think of (and some features you can't think of) are used.

Halberds are often used to hook, draw-cut, or sometimes (especially when half-staffing) to chop.

Pole-axes are used to chop like an axe, because the haft is long enough to give leverage without being unwieldy.

Spears and pikes are not swung because they have a very large moment of inertia (it'll be a powerful blow, but anyone watching will see it from a mile away!).

Trust me, the people who made those weapons knew a lot more about fighting than you or I.
Logged

Lance Meibos
Insanity takes it's toll.  Please have exact change ready.

Get him quick!  He's still got 42 hit points left!
Lance D. Allen
Member

Posts: 1962


WWW
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2002, 05:03:08 PM »

Though I've only used the poleaxe and the spear once, I find myself nodding along with what is being said here. Swinging a spear is about pointless, and is far likelier to kill you than your opponent.

The poleaxe with the hook is deadly, especially if you are fighting two on one with a shieldman (shieldmen are a real pain when they go on full defensive.. If a shieldman is fighting a holding action until reinforcements arrive, he'll likely survive much, much better than someone without a shield) Hook the shield, and let your buddy kill him.

::remembers a good 30 second exchange where nothing happened but maneuvering with the opponent's shield hooked, trying to get in position to thrust to the body::
Logged

~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Lyrax
Member

Posts: 268


« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2002, 08:37:48 PM »

30 seconds is more than one exchange.  That's a whole lot of "I stab at him!"  "I dodge!"  "You tie!"
Logged

Lance Meibos
Insanity takes it's toll.  Please have exact change ready.

Get him quick!  He's still got 42 hit points left!
Lance D. Allen
Member

Posts: 1962


WWW
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2002, 09:36:27 PM »

I never stated that it was a single exchange. And for the record, no, there was no stabbing. We were locked up, with my poleaxe hooked on his shield, all of my effort going to pull the shield aside and maneuver into a position TO thrust, while all of his was going into keeping his shield up, and maneuvering to keep me FROM thrusting. But basically yes, to put it into game terms, we kept tying on our rolls, or not outdoing each other well enough to make any effect. If he could have closed with me, he could have struck, but I had him at range, and if he would have attempted to close, I would have gotten in a killing thrust.
Logged

~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2002, 04:17:28 AM »

Its very difficult to comment on the prices quoted; I don't know how the calculation if any was performed, but extrapolating back to different economic forms is rife with difficulty; the question of how one conceptualises value complicates things tremendously.

However, I did find this in a search today:

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/medievalprices.html

Taking "ready made Milanese armour" as one end of a range, being off the rack at a bit over 8 pounds, with "Armour for the prince of wales, gilt and graven" at 340 pounds as the other end, gives a pretty good sense of the distribution of price (as opposed value) for top quality armour.  There are many cheaper armours in the list, notably "lance armour" at 3-4 pounds.  Note that these prices are separated across a range of some 150 years, but the pace of economic processes such as inflation were much slower.

Anyway, it seems to me that the analogy with high-end armour with luxury sports cars is not misleading, IMO.  The list contains the annual rent for 138 shops on the london bridge, at a bit over 160 pounds; that must have been a substantial sum of money in the contemporary economy, and the crown prince is walking about wearing more than twice that in armour alone.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Durgil
Member

Posts: 306


« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2002, 04:37:06 AM »

Luxury car?  I've always heard that the suits were more comparable to owning your own private jet.  I'm not sure where I heard that statement (I'm thinking it was one of those History Channel or Discovery Channel Programs), but since hearing that, I have always pictured the vast majority of battle field combatants wearing what most gamers like us would think of as the cheap stuff.  A simple leather coat with plates riveted in place and some mail attached here and there.  Only the most high ranking officers/powerful nobles and their immediate families had the connections and resources for the articulated full suits of field and tournament plate that we all see so many pictures of.
Logged

Tony Hamilton

contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2002, 04:45:58 AM »

As it happens, just after posting that I was sort of considering that, given the range above, it might be a bit like buying an F16.  The Prince of Wales there, anyway, would probably be wearing more than the entire wealth of a small town.  But a lot of that my be essentially non-functional decoration; advertising your wealth makes you that much more interesting to capture for ransom rather than kill.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Durgil
Member

Posts: 306


« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2002, 05:26:16 AM »

If the noble has half a brain, I would think that the decorations would be left on the parade field and for the Royal Tournements.
Logged

Tony Hamilton

Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!