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    Default 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    As part of her disguise (Who me? No, I'm not a wizard! Nasty things, wizards! I wouldn't be caught dead near one!), there's a Preserver in my campaign that is wielding a spear. She's proficient in quarterstaff, so the question is, if she wields the spear as she would a quarterstaff, what penalties (if any) should she suffer?

    A spear is really just a quarterstaff with a 6-8" blade on the end, so the only real difference I can see is that you can throw a spear, or set a it against a charge. If you disallow those actions, is there anything else that should be done? Spear and quarterstaff damage are the same for S-M, but spears do 1d8 vs L, where staves do 1d6.

    Should I treat it entirely as a quarterstaff?

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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    Technically, no. She is either proficient or she is not, and it is a spear or it is a quarterstaff. The two weapons are wielded entirely differently as well.

    That said, however, the spear is also one of the easiest weapons to learn (which is why medieval armies had so many.) You could just let her learn it, if she uses it long enough.

    Wielding a spear like a quarterstaff would be different as well, because the shaft will be thinner and slightly less resilient, and you would have to remember not to grab the blade at one end. The closest resemblance (if you took the blade off) is a bo stick. Your call.

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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    Basic is a -5 penalty (wizard, non-proficient).

    However, as a GM, I'd listen to a few arguments. If you're choosing to use it like a quarterstaff, I'd knock it down to a -3 (half, rounded). If you have a really lousy spear that happens to be a decent quarterstaff (specially made; I'd say a few bits above the price of a spear, and you can go with bone or stone), I'd knock it down to -1, but that has the same disadvantages of openly announcing you are a wizard for looking for such a thing; the Veiled Alliance may have them, or know a few trusted smiths who can do it.

    Alternatively? Look for a wooden spear. No special agafari wood or anything... just a hunk of wood or bone that's been sharpened at one end. Cheap, lousy thing for a warrior... but it makes you look poor and warriorish at the same time.
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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    Actually, spears are listed as one of the weapons (like quarterstaffs...quarterstaves?) that don't need to be made of metal to operate at full potential. (Rule Book* p51, 2nd paragraph after "Weapons" subheading). So any warriors walking around with steel spears are just wasting money.

    And from what I understand of the quarterstaff, you generally only hold it on one end (One hand around the middle, and the other a quarter of the way back-hence the name).

    So really, I could just allow her to use it straight up as a quarterstaff, and just treat the point on the end as a bit of decoration. Is there really that big a difference in the diameter of the shafts? Time for some google-fu.

    Alternatively, is the spear a weapon that should be available to wizards?

    Edit:
    * I suppose I should specify that this is the original Darksun rulebook, so no one gets too confused.
    Last edited by Lord Torath; 2012-11-04 at 08:49 PM.

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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    The spear is one of the simplest weapons humans used in large numbers. It's cheap to make, easy to take care of, and the training is very basic (always point this end at enemy. more spears together is good.)

    The basic concept has lasted from Ancient Egypt to a US marine with a bayonet.

    Edit: And to be fair, a good counter is, spears and polearms are designed to work well in groups. You rarely see any tactics that involve a single warrior using one, which is probably why they aren't often seen as 'awesome' in an adventuring party of 4 or 5 people, at least half of whom don't even use weapons regularly, much less a spear wall.
    Last edited by Alejandro; 2012-11-04 at 07:04 PM.

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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    The basic rule is as stated above, magicians have a non-proficiency penalty of −5 when using a spear; the game master may also penalise advancement in some way for using a weapon not permitted to the class. However, he is also free to make an exception and allow a trade-off of some sort, such as requiring an additional 5-10% experience points per level in return for permission to use a spear and gain proficiency in its use. As to treating a spear like a quarterstaff, no, it is not really on; if you need a non-game rationalisation, the balance is different.
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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alejandro View Post
    The spear is one of the simplest weapons humans used in large numbers. It's cheap to make, easy to take care of, and the training is very basic (always point this end at enemy. more spears together is good.)
    And it's a two-handed thrusting weapon, which makes it devastating yet very fast and nimble, and it has more reach than any sword. All pros and cons considered, it's the best weapon in history.

    And it can be used very effectively by a single fighter without a shield if he is well trained. I've seen people mention multiple times that in mock fights with spear versus anything, spear almost always wins.
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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    The following discussion is not based on the rules, but on fighting with spears and quarterstaves. If you want a game of set rules with no clear intent to model real weapons, you can safely ignore it.

    A spear is a light, long piece of wood, chosen to be easy to thrust with. A quarterstaff is a heavy, sturdy piece of wood chosen to be able to survive heavy whacks on the side.

    A spear is a piercing weapon. It needs to be long and light. The spearmen are traditionally the second rank, so the spear is intended to reach past the shieldman in front to hit the enemy beyond. An eight-foot spear is too short. A quarterstaff is a mass weapon. It needs to be heavy and not much longer than the wielder is tall. It is wielded by spinning and fast movement in front of its wielder.

    A spear has a sharp end and a handle end. Good quarterstaff use involves changing grips from one side to another constantly.

    If she tries to use a standard spear, bought from a normal stash of weapons, it will simply fail. It's too long to spin or parry with, and if she hits with it, it has a good chance of breaking.

    If she wields it without thinking, she will soon grab the spear end.

    From a rules perspective, I would treat it like a broadsword-trained warrior wielding a two-handed sword. I might let her take a weapons proficiency for "long, light, one-ended quarterstaff". But it would still be an inferior quarterstaff - probably 1-3 man-sized, 1-4 larger.

    If she has one specially made, shorter and thicker as required, everyone will wonder why she is carrying a poor spear.

    A quarterstaff doubles as a walking stick. A spear doubles as a ten-foot pole. Neither can effectively double as the other.

    If she were my character, she would have a sword on her belt that she never draws, and would walk with a walking staff.

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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    Possible solution: The "Amazon" kit for wizards in the complete book of wizards from the old TSR days permits, and even requires, proficiency with the spear.

    Problem solved.
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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    Wasn't there a weapon that was a quarterstaff, but had a blade that would spring out of one end when a catch was released? I seem to remember that from one of the books.

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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    The staff-spear is an established magic item.
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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    Thanks! Maybe that, then? But it was said that it's a Preserver, so I assume it's Dark Sun, and I am ignorant of the specifics on magic items in that setting.

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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    A spear is a light, long piece of wood, chosen to be easy to thrust with. A quarterstaff is a heavy, sturdy piece of wood chosen to be able to survive heavy whacks on the side.
    There are spears that fit this description, but that is by no means the entirety of them. Something along the lines of the Macedonian sarissa would be utterly worthless as a staff, as the designs that work for fighting in a phalanx at extreme distance necessitate dropping everything useful for a staff. However, something along the lines of shorter Chinese qiang (historical, not for use in wushu) or various Viking hewing spears could work fairly well with something somewhat close to staff techniques. It won't be nearly as effective as proper spear techniques, given how even hewing spears and similar are thrusting weapons far more than any staff, but it won't be the sort of ineffective disaster trying to use something like a sarissa would be.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    The spearmen are traditionally the second rank, so the spear is intended to reach past the shieldman in front to hit the enemy beyond. An eight-foot spear is too short. A quarterstaff is a mass weapon. It needs to be heavy and not much longer than the wielder is tall. It is wielded by spinning and fast movement in front of its wielder.
    The use and distribution of spearmen varied hugely by period, location, and even individual commander in some cases. Moreover, spears in the eight foot range showed up time and time again, even in formation fighting - various Greek phalanxes used them, they saw some use in the Saxon-Norman conflicts, and they were actually on the longer end of spears intended for use in one hand or for spears intended for use in infantry combat without tight formations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alejandro View Post
    The spear is one of the simplest weapons humans used in large numbers. It's cheap to make, easy to take care of, and the training is very basic (always point this end at enemy. more spears together is good.)
    In the context of infantry lines, sure, it's simple to get people up to speed. They'll be horribly outclassed by anyone well trained, and there are nuances within formation fighting that require some training. Still, within the context of formation fighting, spears are generally easier to pick up the basics on.

    Trying to use said basics outside of a formation will get you killed. The way spears are used effectively when there are only a few of them is dramatically different, and quite a bit of skill is required for basic competence. For instance, there's the matter of trying to keep distances where you need them, using the spear at varying distances, and generally not ending up in a situation where somebody is coming straight at you with speed while you aren't moving backwards (or better yet, around) fast enough.

    If you know a decent swordsman and a decent spearman, this is fairly easy to demonstrate. The spearman who is actually good will probably be difficult to close up on, will be able to force the swordsman to stay somewhat defensive, and will be moving enough that they might be able to get out of the swordsman's range even if they win. The novice? They'll overextend almost immediately, the swordsman will move in, they'll freeze up in deciding what to do next, and they'll be hit. Shorter spears (2-3 meters) can be very effective single combat weapons, but they are absolutely not things that work well with minimal training. To use ancient China as an example again, there is a concept of four major weapons. These are the staff, spear, and two varieties of sword (the dao, a shorter cutting sword with some heft to it, and the jian, a longer cut and thrust sword which handles with more finesse). Ignoring the staff, the one stated to be the easiest to achieve proficiency in is the dao, with the spear taking significantly more, and the jian taking the most. Given the way round numbers tend to show up when quantifying, the extent to which each was considered more difficult than the easier one is unclear, but the round numbers chosen are those for an order of magnitude more practice.
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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    Baldur's Gate II had at least one staff-spear (or spear-staff) which used the Quarterstaff proficiency.
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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    There are spears that fit this description, but that is by no means the entirety of them.
    ...
    The use and distribution of spearmen varied hugely by period, location, and even individual commander in some cases.
    True. I was speaking about the spear in use against plate armor, as assumed in the standard D&D model.

    If that's not the standard in the game in question, then you need to find out what spear you're talking about.

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    Default Re: 2nd Ed AD&D: Wizard using a spear. What penalty?

    Thanks for all the replies, everyone! After careful consideration, I've decided to allow the spear to be used as a staff without penalty. Once she tries to jab with it, though, she's looking at a -5 to hit.

    Thanks for all your insights!

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