Why don't spears get any love?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I've noticed a trend in RPGs (including Pathfinder) where swords get most of the love in terms of magic items, class features, and feats (and in PFRPG, blatant mathematical superiority).

The polearms in the martial weapon category have some neat tricks with the right feats, but when fighting larger monsters those tricks become increasingly hard to pull off.

I ask because I intend to run a Bronze-Age campaign, and by making iron rare and steel almost impossible to acquire, swords and polearms (except the rhomphaia, which looked like a naginata with a slightly shorter haft) are mostly off the table.

It's odd that the rhomphaia sucks so hard, since it was used by the Greeks at the battle of Thermopylae, and is a close cousin to the cheesemaster 9000, i.e. the falcata.

I guess being simple weapons means they have to kind of suck, but I'm surprised there are so few options to make spears viable.


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Well, historically, the spear wasn't a very good weapon, which is why people tended to stop using spears as soon as there are any alternatives.

It's too short to be a pike, too long to be an effective hand-to-hand slashing weapon, too heavy to be a javelin, not heavy enough to be a polearm, and poorly balanced for a lance. It's a classic simple weapon that anyone can make, but anyone skilled can make a better weapon more fit for whatever purpose you had in mind.


It's a mechanical design problem.

Mathematically something is going to be superior, or otherwise everything is equal.

If everything was equal there would be little point if having lots of weapons, you would just have generic weapons (which is something I have actually advocated in the past) such as generic two-handed martial weapon and generic two-handed simple weapon with stats for each and the player left to describe that weapon as whatever they wish. But outside of doing that, something has to suck. And simple weapons have to suck compared to martial weapons.

So, if you want a better spear use the weapon creation rules in weapon masters handbook to make a martial spear weapon.


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Und vhy is it zhat you feel ze shpear, he may need love?

*strokes beard meaningfully*


Since this is a homebrew campaign, you could select some polearm feats and/or class features to include the spear.

The two PC's I play in two active campaigns right now both use a spear as their primary weapon (one a Druid, another a Cleric), so I got some spear love going on.


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Claxon wrote:
It's a mechanical design problem.

But also historically appropriate. The history of weapons technology is not one of novelty for its own sake, but improved ways to kill other people. Maxim didn't invent the machine gun just to be perverse, but because the slow rate of fire of the 19th century repeating rifles wasn't effective enough. The repeating rifles were invented because single-shot breech-loaders weren't effective enough. The breech-loaders were invented because the earlier muzzle-loading flintlocks weren't effective enough. Flintlocks were invented because matchlocks weren't reliable and so weren't effective enough.

Go far enough back and you see that swords and halberds were invented by people who didn't think spears were effective enough. Go far enough forward and you see that Teller invented the H-bomb because the A-bomb wasn't effective enough.


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From wiki: Zulus.

Shaka is often said to have been dissatisfied with the long throwing "assegai", and is credited with introducing a new variant of the weapon: the "iklwa", a short stabbing spear with a long, sword-like spearhead ...
The throwing spear was not discarded but used as an initial missile weapon before close contact with the enemy, when the shorter stabbing spear was used in hand-to-hand combat.

Robert Jordan had the Aiel of the Wheel of Time, modeled on the Zulus. There is a d20 version of the Aiel around somewhere. And "what he said", several martial weapons are just better versions of the spear. The concept of the Aiel was that they were originally complete turn-the-other-cheek pacifists, but this became distorted over time to just having an aversion to using swords.


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Also, the bronze age rules in Pathfinder Ultimate Combat aren't really fair to bronze, which was NOT easy to work and which was as good or better than the early iron weapons. Iron was easier to work, good bronze took more effort. The switch to iron was more an economic decision.

Anyway, a skilled smith, by Pathfinder rules, could make magical bronze weapons which would then fix the fragile issues. Fragile is a little bit of a wierd category anyway. Obsidian and stone shatters. Metal frequently bends instead of breaking and can be repaired. Lay it flat and straighten it out.


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Interesting. I would argue the opposite, actually; spears and spear-like weapons are generally much better than swords in pathfinder, as reach is the strongest property a weapon can have. Longspears are the only simple reach weapon, so becomes the weapon of choice for reach clerics, and although most martials are probably not optimal with a spear, some of the strongest possible builds (especially for the early game where you can reliably one-shot things) use a Lucerne hammer or Naginata or other pokey-metal-bit-on-end-of-long-stick based weapon.


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Don't forget what killed Jesus


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parsimony wrote:
Also, the bronze age rules in Pathfinder Ultimate Combat aren't really fair to bronze, which was NOT easy to work and which was as good or better than the early iron weapons. Iron was easier to work, good bronze took more effort. The switch to iron was more an economic decision.

I'd suggest that Iron was/is somewhat harder to work with than bronze (much higher forge temperatures are needed), but it's also much more readily available and you could outfit more soldiers with iron weaponry than you could with bronze weaponry, and since there wasn't much difference in the effectiveness it's clear which has the advantage.

Thelemic_Noun wrote:
Don't forget what killed Jesus

Suffocation? Seems slightly irrelevant.


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This is why I've always wanted spears to be more effective in PF.


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Bluenose wrote:

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Thelemic_Noun wrote:
Don't forget what killed Jesus

Suffocation? Seems slightly irrelevant.

According to the story, he was stabbed in the side with a spear. While crucifixion usually killed by suffocation, it would be hard to "[give] a loud cry and [give] up the ghost" if the guy was suffocating.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I am pretty sure that Jesus was stabbed with a spear after his death, by a soldier who was surprised that he had died so soon.


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Thelemic_Noun wrote:
Don't forget what killed Jesus

Asphyxiation? I think you may need to re-read your Gospels, sir.


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parsimony wrote:


Anyway, a skilled smith, by Pathfinder rules, could make magical bronze weapons which would then fix the fragile issues. Fragile is a little bit of a wierd category anyway. Obsidian and stone shatters. Metal frequently bends instead of breaking and can be repaired. Lay it flat and straighten it out.

Fragile weapons can be repaired as well -- a fragile item may gain the "broken" condition, which can be removed using the same Craft skill that was used to make the item. What's weird?


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Orfamay Quest wrote:

Well, historically, the spear wasn't a very good weapon, which is why people tended to stop using spears as soon as there are any alternatives.

It's too short to be a pike, too long to be an effective hand-to-hand slashing weapon, too heavy to be a javelin, not heavy enough to be a polearm, and poorly balanced for a lance. It's a classic simple weapon that anyone can make, but anyone skilled can make a better weapon more fit for whatever purpose you had in mind.

Historically, spears are the most dominant weapon on the planet. Swords were mere sidearms, hand to hand slashing weapons were rarely main battlefield weapons. Greek Spartans and Samurai alike had spears as their main battlefield weapons, Chinese leavies, etc..

Pikes length was mostly to deal with the specific problem of cavalry, poleaems were more complex to train troops in, etc.. Specialist weapons are great for specialist reasons, but the spear kept coming back in many ages and places due to it's general usefulness and ease of use.


Aside on Jesus' death:
Actually, it's heavily debated.

There was internal failure, of some sort.

Death by suffocation usually came when the cramps set in (or the soldiers broke their legs) and the victim was no longer able to hold themselves up - obviously that didn't happen (and Pilot was surprised to hear he'd died so quickly). That said, the suffocation was slow and was caused by water build-up in the lungs, rather than by a lack of air hm, it seems that conflicting information is present - so I can't say for sure.

Either way, that's why it was important that both water and blood issued forth - either the sack around the heart had been ruptured, or fluid build up in the lungs.

The spear killing him seems... unlikely, given that he cried and gave up the ghost before the soldiers stuck him in order to test for dead. Shoving the spear all the way up and through the corpse - or a living man - into the other side seems... difficult, at best, considering the body had to be mobile enough to avoid suffocation for a while.

But that's just my take. I understand people have debated this for centuries, and it's not going to be resolved on some forums. :)


If it's aesthetics that are troubling you, there's a lot of polearms that can be reskinned to look basically like spears - a ranseur is a spear with a cross hilt, a glaive is basically a spear with a slashing blade rather than a point, and a fauchard is a glaive with the blade on the opposite side (and one of the best weapons in Pathfinder).

From a mechanical perspective, there's a rough idea that simple weapons shouldn't be as good as martial ones, and that's why the spear is not this amazing weapon that a lot of polearms are.


Thelemic_Noun wrote:

I've noticed a trend in RPGs (including Pathfinder) where swords get most of the love in terms of magic items, class features, and feats (and in PFRPG, blatant mathematical superiority).

The polearms in the martial weapon category have some neat tricks with the right feats, but when fighting larger monsters those tricks become increasingly hard to pull off.

I ask because I intend to run a Bronze-Age campaign, and by making iron rare and steel almost impossible to acquire, swords and polearms (except the rhomphaia, which looked like a naginata with a slightly shorter haft) are mostly off the table.

It's odd that the rhomphaia sucks so hard, since it was used by the Greeks at the battle of Thermopylae, and is a close cousin to the cheesemaster 9000, i.e. the falcata.

I guess being simple weapons means they have to kind of suck, but I'm surprised there are so few options to make spears viable.

What's your standard of viability? What do you need? The standard weapon boosting feats focus/specialisation/improved crit can be taken for spears. there are also feats for long spears that allow you to retract them for closer use I think.

Also remember during the Bronze Age, most everyone was using weapons with the same amount of "suckage". That's why it was the Bronze Age.


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Davia D wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:

Well, historically, the spear wasn't a very good weapon, which is why people tended to stop using spears as soon as there are any alternatives.

It's too short to be a pike, too long to be an effective hand-to-hand slashing weapon, too heavy to be a javelin, not heavy enough to be a polearm, and poorly balanced for a lance. It's a classic simple weapon that anyone can make, but anyone skilled can make a better weapon more fit for whatever purpose you had in mind.

Historically, spears are the most dominant weapon on the planet.

Of course. They're cheap. In the Second World War, the Japanese planned to defend their home islands with millions of women, children, and pensioners holding spears made of sharpened pieces of bamboo.

But that's not because a sharpened piece of bamboo is a good weapon. It's a terrible weapon, even by the undemanding standards of spears. But everyone peasant has a bamboo stand in his yard, and it takes only a few minutes to lop the top off at an angle to produce a point.

Just because something is common doesn't mean it's any good. Look at the restaurant business. There are 20,000 McDonalds in the world, which makes it "the most dominant restaurant on the planet." KFC is in second place, with roughly 12,000 restaurants. [url=http://www.eater.com/2016/6/13/11923536/worlds-50-best-restaurants-2016]The best restaurant in the world[/i] is Osteria Francescana, in Modena, Italy --- and there's only one of it.


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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Well, the main issue I see is that people are too hung up on having the "best" weapons. They look at average damage, critical rates and ranges, usually decide that about ten weapons are worth having because the rest are subpar. Personally, I think that people with "optimized" characters should be comfortable using any weapon, but they don't seem to be.

One of the guys I know is very proud of his level one character who readied a spear against a charge, critted, and did a ton of damage. Nothing wrong with the spear, except for it generally doesn't excite people to say they have one. You have a nodachi for your polearm? That sounds so cool. Bec-de-Corbin? Take me out to dinner before you lay that on me. Spear? Yeah, the bartender keeps them on the table next to the peanuts.

And for thejeff, there's Spear Dancing Style which is a fun and exciting style. Do silly things like give your 15' sarissa reach and the double weapon property temporarily. It basically lets you use spears/polearms the way they are used in the clip you have.


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I houserule a spear can be used as a double weapon like a quarterstaff, one end blunt and the other end piercing. Makes it a little more useful.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
Well, historically, the spear wasn't a very good weapon,

The zulu of the 19th century disagree.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
Davia D wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:

Well, historically, the spear wasn't a very good weapon, which is why people tended to stop using spears as soon as there are any alternatives.

It's too short to be a pike, too long to be an effective hand-to-hand slashing weapon, too heavy to be a javelin, not heavy enough to be a polearm, and poorly balanced for a lance. It's a classic simple weapon that anyone can make, but anyone skilled can make a better weapon more fit for whatever purpose you had in mind.

Historically, spears are the most dominant weapon on the planet.
Of course. They're cheap. In the Second World War, the Japanese planned to defend their home islands with millions of women, children, and pensioners holding spears made of sharpened pieces of bamboo.

I think some of us are just going to have to disagree with you, like much of history does. Spears wouldn't have stuck around in use in every major European army until the 17th century if they were bad weapons. The only reason they fell out of favor is because the newer muskets and cannons made large units of melee weapon armed troops obsolete.

(I mean, most modern military organizations still equip their soldiers with items designed to turn their primary weapon, the assault rifle, into a spear.)


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The spear is cheap, so it is a peasants weapon, along with the axe, the club and whatever.
A good nobleman uses a sword, and fights other good noblemen. All in good armor. You see, you don't want to kill the good nobleman, he is worth money alive. Besides, he is probably a relative. You don't go at him with stabby choppy things, you go at him with slashy things that his armor is best against him. You execute the lowborn who dare to attack him with the high kill rate over wounding toys as they are acting above their station.

Cutting off the fingers of those pesky bowmen is also a good plan too. As noted above, swords tend to be more durable, and are flat awesome against people with little or no armor. So you are killing those you don't value, and capturing those that you do.
Since the D&D approach to armor is unrealistic it throws all this on its head.

The ultrafast stabbing swords changed the game in the West, along with the quick and dirty weapon from hell, the crossbow (which let any stupid unskilled townie take out highly skilled and armored knights and nobles). The East was the land of the sword as heavy armor not so much a thing.

Swords are awesome, because they are a sign of greatness, not because they are the perfect weapon. If the game didn't enforce this, it would not be pandering to its base. There are several realistic combat games languishing out there. Stabbing is for the lowly, slashing is for the hero.


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Daw wrote:
Swords are awesome, because they are a sign of greatness, not because they are the perfect weapon.

I never suggested that the sword is the perfect weapon. One of the lessons of history is that there is no perfect weapon. But the sword is a much better weapon for one-on-one melee fighting, the pike is a much better weapon for massed infantry formations (with or without shield walls to hide behind), the lance is a much better weapon for a cavalry charge against heavy armor (assuming you're advanced enough to have stirrups), the saber is a much better weapon for a cavalry charge against lightly or unarmored enemies, the halberd is better for getting through heavy armor if for some reason you're not on a charging horse, and so forth.

The only real advantages of the spear are accurately represented in the equipment list. They are simple weapons, so you can train levies in them quickly. They are also cheap weapons, so you can afford to equip levies with them.


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Ryan Freire wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Well, historically, the spear wasn't a very good weapon,
The zulu of the 19th century disagree.

Not... really. Shaka basically invented the South African version of a shortsword because he thought that traditional spears weren't the kind of weapons he needed to wage war successfully.


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Actually, Shaka more importantly changed the culture, creating the soldier who would fight to the death. Women warriors knew that death was better than capture for them, which would only lead to a slower more humiliating death. His male soldiers were shamed if they gave up when the women fought on. Then the "cowards" we're shamefully executed of course.


Ventnor wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Well, historically, the spear wasn't a very good weapon,
The zulu of the 19th century disagree.
Not... really. Shaka basically invented the South African version of a shortsword because he thought that traditional spears weren't the kind of weapons he needed to wage war successfully.

There's also the question of who Shaka Zulu actually managed to beat. As you point out, one of his major innovations was the recognition that the spear wasn't a very good weapon, so he invented something better and then proceeded to beat the daylights out of other, spear-wielding, native tribes. As Wikipedia puts it, "Shaka revolutionized traditional ways of fighting by introducing the assegai, a short stabbing spear, as a weapon and by organizing warriors into disciplined units that fought in close formation behind large cowhide shields." (There seems to be some confusion about whether the "assegai" was the long or the short spear, but the basic idea that a traditional spear wasn't very good seems in agreement.)

But how would Shaka Zulu have done against a Roman legion? Given that the Romans also fought in disciplined units, but had a better weapon in the gladius, I suspect that Caesar would have crushed them. Although Shaka himself never faced modern firearms, he seems not to have understood them ("As for firearms, Shaka acknowledged their utility as missile weapons after seeing muzzle-loaders demonstrated, but argued that in the time a gunman took to reload, he would be swamped by charging spear-wielding warriors.") The results of the Anglo-Zulu war do not bear him out.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:

Well, historically, the spear wasn't a very good weapon, which is why people tended to stop using spears as soon as there are any alternatives.

It's too short to be a pike, too long to be an effective hand-to-hand slashing weapon, too heavy to be a javelin, not heavy enough to be a polearm, and poorly balanced for a lance. It's a classic simple weapon that anyone can make, but anyone skilled can make a better weapon more fit for whatever purpose you had in mind.

I think the OP is using the term 'spear' more generally to define any kind of 'sharp thing on a stick'. In all of those examples, you gave different 'spears'.

The primary question is why the main weapon getting sidelined so much by the side arm. Swords are even worse off than most spears- they have comparatively short reach and not as much leverage. They do fine in close quarters (where length might be an issue for polearms), but they were otherwise just the thing you used when you main weapon broke or no one allowed you to bring a halberd into the bar.

Still, looking at the mechanics... reach weapons are some of the strongest melee weapons in game. They give the chance to get extra attacks, which usually more than makes up for the slightly lower stats. While some of the tricky reach builds (such as trip) may lose their advantage later on against big things, you can still find a lot of power from reach weapons. Add lunge onto them, adn you get a pseudo pounce (attack anything in a 20' reach) and it allows you to attack from far enough away so you don't draw AoOs yourself. Both of those are fantastic advantages, even when facing huge creatures. And all of this is available to pretty much any class that does melee (...other than druids).

But I believe that the real complaint that started this thread is simple- it isn't that polearms are weak in the system, it is that they don't get the love swords find. The attention, artwork, and unique magical weapons. Well... this is a classic problem between these weapons. This deals with a long standing cultural view, which was likely born due to several factors with the weapons' use. In the bronze era, swords were owned by nobles (who were often well trained in martial arts in feudal eras) while spears are a simple weapon that can have limited effect even in the hands of a random farmer. So you have super trained experts compared against the rabble that gets drafted for group tactics. Not going to leave a good impression, even if the nobles actually use spears as their main weapon on the actual battlefield. Also- side arms such as swords could be carried anywhere, as as such they got more exposure (particularly when hot blooded young nobles pick fights). Spears tended to see more use out of the public eye on battlefields.

DungeonmasterCal wrote:
I houserule a spear can be used as a double weapon like a quarterstaff, one end blunt and the other end piercing. Makes it a little more useful.

Why houserule?We already have the weighted spear released in the melee tactics toolbox. It is pretty much just a plain, no frills spear with a light mace taped to the other end (so you have something to use on skeletons- yay). Simple category weapon.

Honestly, since most double weapons that are not exotic suck, its stats are very, very squarely in the area of 'its fine' as far as double weapons go. It would be great for a ranger or slayer that wanted a double weapon for 2 handing/TWF and use with weapon focus.

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If you are looking for an RPG that puts Spears on par with Swords (in some ways better, some ways worse), a Bronze-Age campaign, with iron very rare (basically enchanted) and steel not even heard of...

Try RuneQuest.

it's been making something of a come back... and you can get the 2nd edition (the best one) material from the original sources again...


lemeres wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:

Well, historically, the spear wasn't a very good weapon, which is why people tended to stop using spears as soon as there are any alternatives.

It's too short to be a pike, too long to be an effective hand-to-hand slashing weapon, too heavy to be a javelin, not heavy enough to be a polearm, and poorly balanced for a lance. It's a classic simple weapon that anyone can make, but anyone skilled can make a better weapon more fit for whatever purpose you had in mind.

I think the OP is using the term 'spear' more generally to define any kind of 'sharp thing on a stick'. In all of those examples, you gave different 'spears'.

Maybe, but they were also all post-Mesopotamian developments. I mean, it sounds really obvious that you can make a REALLY REALLY LONG spear, right? But the pike isn't really seen until the Middle Ages.... the Romans didn't use them. And while there were earlier REALLY REALLY LONG spears, such as the sarissa, but that was developed by/under Alexander the Great's father, so call it 350 BCE. I don't know of any earlier uses. At the Wikipedia article points out, there were a lot of tactical limitations on its use. A 4 meter spear is a hell of a thing to carry around, and is way too big to use along with a shield. Against an opponent with any sort of mobility, it's almost impossible to use, because you need to train the entire phalanx to pivot on a dime.

So it's not that surprising that the Mesopotamians never developed the training standards and tactics to use pikes. And it's also not surprising that the Romans, with their gladii (gladiuses?) were able to defeat the sarissa-wielding Greeks with relative ease.

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Thelemic_Noun wrote:

I've noticed a trend in RPGs (including Pathfinder) where swords get most of the love in terms of magic items, class features, and feats (and in PFRPG, blatant mathematical superiority).

The polearms in the martial weapon category have some neat tricks with the right feats, but when fighting larger monsters those tricks become increasingly hard to pull off.

I ask because I intend to run a Bronze-Age campaign, and by making iron rare and steel almost impossible to acquire, swords and polearms (except the rhomphaia, which looked like a naginata with a slightly shorter haft) are mostly off the table.

It's odd that the rhomphaia sucks so hard, since it was used by the Greeks at the battle of Thermopylae, and is a close cousin to the cheesemaster 9000, i.e. the falcata.

I guess being simple weapons means they have to kind of suck, but I'm surprised there are so few options to make spears viable.

First, I want to say I really-really like your post. and I enjoy most of what you posted... but one thing did bug me.

The rhomphaia wasn't really used at Thermopylae. It was used by the Thracians, not used much by the greeks ... and even the Thracians aren't know to use it before about 400B.C. (about 80 years after Thermopylae). The greeks mainly used spears as the main military weapon, with swords being used as side arms (weapons of last resort). Kind of like pistols are in modern armies.


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Besides, swords are cooler. If they weren't, they wouldn't get all the cool enchants, would they. Regardless of the sometimes excellent, sometimes not so good arguments about real world effectiveness, the sword is the romantic in-game favorite. The romance of the sword led to the lightsaber in star wars. "It is an elegant weapon for a more civilized age."
Spears cannot be more effective except in special cases, because the game shoots for cool over realism every time. If it didn't, the longbowman and the crossbowman would rule the field. Next would be Cavalry, then Infantry, with pike formations vying for second place with those darn cavalry.. Fortunately in the real world archers are a pain to maintain, and crossbows are fairly expensive, and are the devil's weapon besides.

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Historically, swords are side arms.

Spears are normally the melee weapon of choice.

In Fantasy fiction (and art!), we tend to forget that - which is why we get a distorted view in our games.

Even after the invention of fire-arms, the weapons used on the battlefield still included spears. (That's why the "transition period" to gunpowder weapons is called "Pike-and-shot" and not "Broadsword-and-shot"). Even after we get good firearms, the bayonet was invented - not the musket ax.

I expect in a few hundred years, fantasy games set in our current time will have the heroes fighting mass battles with armies armed with pistols... not rifles and sub-machineguns...


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nosig wrote:

Historically, swords are side arms.

Spears are normally the melee weapon of choice.

In Fantasy fiction (and art!), we tend to forget that - which is why we get a distorted view in our games.

Even after the invention of fire-arms, the weapons used on the battlefield still included spears. (That's why the "transition period" to gunpowder weapons is called "Pike-and-shot" and not "Broadsword-and-shot"). Even after we get good firearms, the bayonet was invented - not the musket ax.

I expect in a few hundred years, fantasy games set in our current time will have the heroes fighting mass battles with armies armed with pistols... not rifles and sub-machineguns...

That's also partly the difference between "battlefield weapon" and "personal weapon".

Those future fantasy games & stories may have rifles for the large battles, but the adventuring heroes will use mostly pistols. Which we already see now. How many action heroes use pistols more than long arms?


nosig wrote:
Even after the invention of fire-arms, the weapons used on the battlefield still included spears.

Pikes, not spears.

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Daw wrote:

Besides, swords are cooler. If they weren't, they wouldn't get all the cool enchants, would they. Regardless of the sometimes excellent, sometimes not so good arguments about real world effectiveness, the sword is the romantic in-game favorite. The romance of the sword led to the lightsaber in star wars. "It is an elegant weapon for a more civilized age."

Spears cannot be more effective except in special cases, because the game shoots for cool over realism every time. If it didn't, the longbowman and the crossbowman would rule the field. Next would be Cavalry, then Infantry, with pike formations vying for second place with those darn cavalry.. Fortunately in the real world archers are a pain to maintain, and crossbows are fairly expensive, and are the devil's weapon besides.

I like this post - esp. the part I bolded.

The "problem" (if it is a problem) is it sort of feeds on itself, until we get people who "KNOW" swords are better. Who form their beliefs from game systems/art and not from history/reality... Who look for "facts" that support their beliefs, and blind themselves to things that do not fit their beliefs.


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Pikes were 10 to 25 feet long, and a formation carried the full range of lengths, because you want the pointy tips to all be in the same place, so the further back your rank you were in, the longer the pike you wielded.

A long spear is not really any different than a short pike.

Orfamy, you don't like spears. Cool.

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Orfamay Quest wrote:
nosig wrote:
Even after the invention of fire-arms, the weapons used on the battlefield still included spears.
Pikes, not spears.

sigh...

Sorry, no.

A Pike is a form of Spear. Just like a Broadsword is a sword, and a rhomphaia is an Ax. (From Wikipedia "A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear formerly used extensively by infantry. "

A Pike is a spear.

I am trying really hard not to get snarky. Most of your posts on this thread are ... less than accurate. Are you doing it on purpose? Mostly, after the first two of your posts I have been ignoring what you post.

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Daw wrote:

Pikes were 10 to 25 feet long, and a formation carried the full range of lengths, because you want the pointy tips to all be in the same place, so the further back your rank you were in, the longer the pike you wielded.

A long spear is not really any different than a short pike.

Orfamy, you don't like spears. Cool.

Normally, spear armed troops (even those with "pikes" - which are really just long spears) would have weapons of the same length. The guys in the 2nd/3rd/etc ranks would defend against people who got "inside" the 1st ranks reach.

edit: again, from Wikipedia on Pikes "better-trained troops were capable of using the pike in an aggressive attack with each rank of pikemen being trained to hold their pikes so that they presented enemy infantry with four or five layers of spearheads bristling from the front of the formation."


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A lot of people ITT are putting down swords as "mere sidearms" when swords make a lot more sense for adventurers, much if not most of the time.

Spears were by far the more common weapon for use in armies, where you had men on either side and for four ranks behind you, or when sitting atop a horse made a longer weapon necessary to strike at a man in front of the horse. That's in addition to the ease of their use and their low cost.

As one person in an adventuring party, you fight alongside four-ish other people, some of which are not likely to be melee combatants. You're likely to fight multiple opponents at the same time, and to be fighting in close quarters. Pathfinder doesn't (and shouldn't) accurately model the difficulties of fighting with a spear in close quarters, beyond the "deadzone" of reach weapons, nor does it model the sheer pain-in-the-ass factor of carrying an 8' spear everywhere you go. Consider that the average door height (at least in modern North America) is 6 feet 8 inches. From antiquity to the early modern era the sword, not the spear, was what you took with you in everyday life (provided you could afford a sword when they were not easy to make, which adventurers certainly can). Swords also happened to be more versatile with the ability to cut as well as to pierce, provide more protection for the hand (especially with crossguards and later more complex hilts) and the longsword could be held and used just like a spear if need be (such as against a heavily armored opponent).


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Athaleon wrote:

A lot of people ITT are putting down swords as "mere sidearms" when swords make a lot more sense for adventurers, much if not most of the time.

Spears were by far the more common weapon for use in armies, where you had men on either side and for four ranks behind you, or when sitting atop a horse made a longer weapon necessary to strike at a man in front of the horse. That's in addition to the ease of their use and their low cost.

As one person in an adventuring party, you fight alongside four-ish other people, some of which are not likely to be melee combatants. You're likely to fight multiple opponents at the same time, and to be fighting in close quarters. Pathfinder doesn't (and shouldn't) accurately model the difficulties of fighting with a spear in close quarters, beyond the "deadzone" of reach weapons, nor does it model the sheer pain-in-the-ass factor of carrying an 8' spear everywhere you go. Consider that the average door height (at least in modern North America) is 6 feet 8 inches. From antiquity to the early modern era the sword, not the spear, was what you took with you in everyday life (provided you could afford a sword when they were not easy to make, which adventurers certainly can). Swords also happened to be more versatile with the ability to cut as well as to pierce, provide more protection for the hand (especially with crossguards and later more complex hilts) and the longsword could be held and used just like a spear if need be (such as against a heavily armored opponent).

Just going to second this. Polearms were always far always far more effective in large and tightly packed formations than in single combat. It's why Pathfinder doesn't have the option of equipping your PC with a 20 foot long pike: the weapon's not something a lone adventurer would get any good use out of.

As an aside, there's clearly some "define your terms" issues going on with spears in this thread.


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Chengar Qordath wrote:
It's why Pathfinder doesn't have the option of equipping your PC with a 20 foot long pike: the weapon's not something a lone adventurer would get any good use out of.

They let you use a 15-foot one though.


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nosig wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
nosig wrote:
Even after the invention of fire-arms, the weapons used on the battlefield still included spears.
Pikes, not spears.

sigh...

Sorry, no.

A Pike is a form of Spear. Just like a Broadsword is a sword, and a rhomphaia is an Ax. (From Wikipedia "A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear formerly used extensively by infantry. "

But not historically, not in the Pathfinder context, and not in the context of the proposed Mesopotamian game.

"Spears," in the general sense of anything on a stick with a pointy bit at the end, had indeed been around since time immemorial and probably predate the development of stone tools. But that's not what Pathfinder calls a "spear." Pathfinder rather clearly distinguishes between different types of sticks-with-pointy-bits, which is why you can get javelins, boarding pikes, shortspears, longspears, lances, boar spears, and so forth.

The Mesopotamian didn't, and couldn't, because they weren't familiar with all the different ways you could make a stick-with-a-pointy-bit, and in many cases didn't have the technology or the training to use them appropriately.

What the Mesopotamian would have called a "spear" would not have looked like a European pike, and the Mesopotamian army couldn't have used a European pike effectively. And, similarly, the early modern European army didn't use what the Mesopotamians and Greeks called a spear (the "doru") because it wasn't a useful battlefield weapon against cavalry with stirrups or infantry with actual pikes.

So while you may say that "they're all spears," that doesn't help much. If you look at the historical record, there is a reason that the doru was replaced by the sarissa, and the sarissa by the gladius.

The Exchange

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Spears often were not long... and were often very manageable. Watch some of the Re-enactors going at it on youtube sometime (I really like some of the ones Lindybeige posts). Spears can be VERY effective in small formations (2-12 men).

Shorter spears would include: Zulus assegai, English/European Partisan, Roman Republic triarii spears, American Civil War Musket w/bayonet ... but mostly pick ANY period, there were spears in use - often as the main weapon. Some short enough to throw.

I used to play a historical wargame that actually had a class of weapon called "Javelin/Light Spear" because of all the troops that were - historically - armed with one (or more) light spears that could be used in melee, or thrown.


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Ok, spears/pikes don't work for your Adventurer, because formations don't work. This is an artifact of the ridiculous battle footprint rules. If you have no clue at all about how weapons work, Pathfinder combat is fine, and it does support the Conan style swordsman.

The Exchange

Orfamay Quest wrote:
nosig wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
nosig wrote:
Even after the invention of fire-arms, the weapons used on the battlefield still included spears.
Pikes, not spears.

sigh...

Sorry, no.

A Pike is a form of Spear. Just like a Broadsword is a sword, and a rhomphaia is an Ax. (From Wikipedia "A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear formerly used extensively by infantry. "

But not historically, not in the Pathfinder context, and not in the context of the proposed Mesopotamian game.

"Spears," in the general sense of anything on a stick with a pointy bit at the end, had indeed been around since time immemorial and probably predate the development of stone tools. But that's not what Pathfinder calls a "spear." Pathfinder rather clearly distinguishes between different types of sticks-with-pointy-bits, which is why you can get javelins, boarding pikes, shortspears, longspears, lances, boar spears, and so forth.

The Mesopotamian didn't, and couldn't, because they weren't familiar with all the different ways you could make a stick-with-a-pointy-bit, and in many cases didn't have the technology or the training to use them appropriately.

What the Mesopotamian would have called a "spear" would not have looked like a European pike, and the Mesopotamian army couldn't have used a European pike effectively. And, similarly, the early modern European army didn't use what the Mesopotamians and Greeks called a spear (the "doru") because it wasn't a useful battlefield weapon against cavalry with stirrups or infantry with actual pikes.

So while you may say that "they're all spears," that doesn't help much. If you look at the historical record, there is a reason that the doru was replaced by the sarissa, and the sarissa by the gladius.

I... refuse to be baited. moving on now. Putting you on Ignore.


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I just had someone tell me the rhomphaia was not a sword. If not, what is it? A pole arm?

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