"To begin with, a definition of pole arm should be set. A pole arm is, in simplest terms, a weapon on the end of a stick. Pole arms are infantry weapons. The additional reach the pole gives affords the wielder of the weapon the advantage of striking the enemy before he himself can be struck, or holding the enemy at a distance.”
It’s perhaps not a gross exaggeration to claim that earlier editions of the game elaborated—fairly extensively—on pole arms. It wasn’t enough that you could purchase one for your character, or that you could distinguish between a simple spear, lance, or pole axe, but that you could fine-tune your shopping with all manner of bill-guisarmes, guisarme-voulges, or glaive-guisarmes (with Order of the Stick
even getting into the act at one point). Did any of this matter much to the players? Probably not, but the game had its roots in miniature wargaming and its creators nevertheless had an interest in the subject.
Let’s see how much of this specialized game knowledge you can recall. Following is a short quiz on various pole arms as depicted in the game. How many can you identify? Perhaps the following clue might help:
“Sometimes a weapon with an added feature is identified as the added part rather than as the major weapon. For example, an axe head attached to the end of what is basically a spear (i.e., the partisan) is not called a pole axe, for the length of the shaft and the predominant employment of the point make it rather obviously a thrusting weapon with added secondary functions. A glaring example of misidentification is found in Stone’s A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and use of Arms and Armor. Therein, the author shows a halberd with a fork tip rather than the usual dagger/spear point and identifies it as a military fork. Now, were the shaft of the weapon 8 feet or more in length, this might be proper, but it is a halberd-sized pole, and the weapon is simply a halberd with an incidental fork atop it.
“Confusion regarding certain combination weapons of the fauchard-glaive voulge-guisarme-bill types is certainly understandable, and care must be taken in identifying such weapons. Careful examination of the length of the shaft and the shape of the head will give clues as to its primary uses in combat, and hence its identity.”
Then again, perhaps that doesn’t help at all! Hey, we never said this quiz would be easy.
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 - X
0-3: Linkboy. C’mon, you can randomly guess better than this!
4-7: Warrior. You know your spears from your axes, but not much more. Still, this score is about normal.
8-11: Hero. Impressive. Don’t feel bad if you missed the weird guisarme combinations. Nobody gets those right.
12-15: Swashbuckler. You own several pole arms. You may have even read A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and use of Arms and Armor.
16+: Cheater. Not buying it. You just looked these up in the back of Unearthed Arcana, didn’t you?