Friday, July 31, 2009
Swords & Sorcery ain't got nuthin' on Spears & Spells! OK, yeah that's a stretch. What about Spears & Shields?
Swords seem to have captured the genre with a muscular grip of thick Hyborian sinews, but Spears should be just as important, if not more so, than Swords. I fully understand that Swords are widely considered the pinnacle of hand-to-hand melee technology. It's just that by the time the Sword actually took the title of undisputed champion, by way of the long sword, firearms were but a few generations away.
Compare that to the oft disregarded Spear. The reign of the Spear was far, far longer in the greater history of warfare. In the truest example of fiction/fantasy influence, D&D coughed up the crown to Swords. In OD&D Swords account for 1 out of every 5 Magic Items discovered. Spears? A paltry 1 out of every 200 Magic Items. Something's amiss here.
Also, consider the Shield in not just OD&D, but all editions. Shields improve Armor Class by one. Really? OK, I can live with that in the greater scheme of things, but Shields are realistically much more valuable in hand-to-hand combat.
Perhaps the Sword is the more romantic of the two. Perhaps the image of knights in shining armor is likewise more evocative of the fantasy genre which D&D embraces. The fact is, take a Spear & Shield and you're good to go melee wise, armor be damned.
Would it be heresy to make the unjustifiably disregarded Spear the predominant weapon in a campaign? Would it be blasphemous to make the disrespected Shield the basis of one's true Armor Class in a similarly conceived unconventional campaign? I think not, and I believe that such notions are both historically and logically sound.
So there you have it. The Spear reigns over all melee weapons, and the Shield is the backbone of any defensively-minded Fighting Man in said campaign.
The Spear is useful with one hand or two, as an effective deterrent to charges, tactically due to reach and usefulness in cramped confines, and further as a crude missile weapon. Nothing really needs to be said about the Shield; it is clearly as important as armor, regardless of whether one is clad in scale, chain or plate mail. That D&D made the Shield as effective as leather armor is laughable.
The Spear & Shield campaign replaces magical and sometimes intelligent Swords with Spears. It also rearranges the AC rules as detailed below:
No armor: 9
Plate: 6, reduces Move by 3
Shield: -3 AC
Large Shield: -4 AC, reduces Move by 3
Just thinking out loud. Carry on, but give the Spear and Shield their due or I'll get all Spartan on your Barbarian scum hides.