Fixing the polearm and taking back its seat as generally best nonprojectile weapon from the sword.

Polearm have been the most successful general type of weapon (whether martial or otherwise) other than projectile weapons on a consistant basis throughout history. Lets make d&d reflect that instead of having spears be nonsensically weak options. I was thinking of doing several things:

1. Give them all bonus to trip attempts

2. Superior bonus to disarm attempts

3. Depending on polearm size reach or an even better reach

4. A somewhat modified critical

5. Make all but halberds and similarly cumbersome examples capable of making use of weapon finesse

6. Improve the type of damage die most of them (not all) have

7. Expand the ability to use them as a staff (for focusing spells) to all editions instead of just 3.5 (if there are editions for which this isnt a thing). Maybe restrict this to perfectly symetrical examples for balancing purposes and other purposes.

Those are the ideas ive come up with so far.
 
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Cap'n Kobold

Adventurer
Spears have been the most successful general type of weapon (whether martial or otherwise) other than projectile weapons on a consistant basis throughout history. Lets make d&d reflect that instead of having spears be nonsensically weak options. I was thinking of doing several things:

1. Give them all bonus to trip attempts

2. Superior bonus to disarm attempts

3. Depending on spear size reach or an even better reach

4. A somewhat modified critical

5. Make all but halberds and similarly cumbersome examples capable of making use of weapon finesse

6. Improve the type of damage die most of them (not all) have

7. Expand the ability to use them as a staff (for focusing spells) to all editions instead of just 3.5 (if there are editions for which this isnt a thing). Maybe restrict this to perfectly symetrical examples for balancing purposes and other purposes.

Those are the ideas ive come up with so far.
I think the issue is that option 3 and maybe 6 is the only realistic one out of them. Personally I do not find them "nonsensically weak" however.
Spears are a successful battlefield and hunting weapon partly because they are cheap, can be made by people without the technology to make swords, and are relatively simple to use: "The pointy end goes in the other guy."
The reach advantage is the main reason for their effectiveness against a battle line or when fighting an animal, but D&D requires a feat to be able to make use of that, and there is no mechanic in D&D representing creatures wanting to stay out of reach. - In D&D opponents tend to just barrel in to melee irrespective of being threatened.

Spears aren't particularly good are knocking people over or disarming them - or at least no better than most other weapons. There is nothing much about them to suggest more serious hits. Maneuvering a metal head on the end of a solid wooden pole requires a certain degree of strength even before you start trying to push through someone's guard or armour, so I don't think Finesse is appropriate.

In terms of stuff that I'd consider for improving the spear:
Firstly, have you looked at the UA spear feat?
Make them valid for use as polearms for the Polearm Master Feat.
Perhaps increase the damage die when used two-handed, at least by a character with Martial weapons proficiency to d10.
Increase the thrown short range to maybe 40ft: make it effective to throw from standing rather than just moving then attacking.

Also perhaps:
Versatile fighting style: When using a versatile weapon in two hands, you receive a +2 to hit with it.
 
I think the issue is that option 3 and maybe 6 is the only realistic one out of them. Personally I do not find them "nonsensically weak" however.
Spears are a successful battlefield and hunting weapon partly because they are cheap, can be made by people without the technology to make swords, and are relatively simple to use: "The pointy end goes in the other guy."
The reach advantage is the main reason for their effectiveness against a battle line or when fighting an animal, but D&D requires a feat to be able to make use of that, and there is no mechanic in D&D representing creatures wanting to stay out of reach. - In D&D opponents tend to just barrel in to melee irrespective of being threatened.

Spears aren't particularly good are knocking people over or disarming them - or at least no better than most other weapons. There is nothing much about them to suggest more serious hits. Maneuvering a metal head on the end of a solid wooden pole requires a certain degree of strength even before you start trying to push through someone's guard or armour, so I don't think Finesse is appropriate.

In terms of stuff that I'd consider for improving the spear:
Firstly, have you looked at the UA spear feat?
Make them valid for use as polearms for the Polearm Master Feat.
Perhaps increase the damage die when used two-handed, at least by a character with Martial weapons proficiency to d10.
Increase the thrown short range to maybe 40ft: make it effective to throw from standing rather than just moving then attacking.

Also perhaps:
Versatile fighting style: When using a versatile weapon in two hands, you receive a +2 to hit with it.
Yeah...nope
Put a guy with a spear (no throwing allowed) up against a guy with a sword. They are going to win against the sword about 9 out of 10 times. It really is broadly speaking a more capable weapon. Im not trying to be rude. You are simply wrong and probably affected by conditioning. Swords look cool. So they feature strongly in hollywood. At everything you say they are poor at they are actually better than a sword at that exact thing. Im sorry.
 
add armor and the gulf between the two only gets bigger

Furthermore, polearm is really the over arching family i intend to refer to (i was being lazy but this is made already aparent by my referencing halberds). I will edit.
 

S'mon

Legend
Primeval Thule has a Warspear - d8/d10 versatile, heavy. No reach though! You could have a longer pike-like one that was d8/d10 versatile, heavy, reach, disadvantage vs adjacent foes; though the glaive/halberd then is clearly better.
 

S'mon

Legend
Yeah...nope
Put a guy with a spear (no throwing allowed) up against a guy with a sword. They are going to win against the sword about 9 out of 10 times. It really is broadly speaking a more capable weapon. Im not trying to be rude. You are simply wrong and probably affected by conditioning. Swords look cool. So they feature strongly in hollywood. At everything you say they are poor at they are actually better than a sword at that exact thing. Im sorry.
Lindybeige had a great spear vs sword HEMA video. Basically, 1 on 1 duel a 2-handed spear mostly beats sword, even sword & shield, but spear & shield is poor 1-on-1 since once the foe has closed in the spear is too clumsy to use effectively in one hand.

Basically you are right, spear is a superior battlefield weapon, but it did show that spear + shield is only for group combat. Swords are sidearms, like pistols, and have rarely been a primary weapon.
 

rgoodbb

Explorer
Primeval Thule has a Warspear - d8/d10 versatile, heavy. No reach though! You could have a longer pike-like one that was d8/d10 versatile, heavy, reach, disadvantage vs adjacent foes; though the glaive/halberd then is clearly better.
If you added a very small throwing distance would that level it out?
 
I havent seen the video but my guess is that they just werent used to using a sheild with a polearm (lotta people who are otherwise martially profiecient will not be proficient at that in particular. Were they, the spear would have stomped all over the place. The issue gets worse with plate because the are a lot of strategies that keep most of their effectiveness with a spear even when you cabt pierce the armor (but u stand a better chance doing that than with the sword too. Most reasonable strategy would be to simply batter the person until they lose their footing then trip then kill)
 

Cap'n Kobold

Adventurer
Yeah...nope
Put a guy with a spear (no throwing allowed) up against a guy with a sword. They are going to win against the sword about 9 out of 10 times. It really is broadly speaking a more capable weapon. Im not trying to be rude. You are simply wrong and probably affected by conditioning. Swords look cool. So they feature strongly in hollywood. At everything you say they are poor at they are actually better than a sword at that exact thing. Im sorry.
My condolences.

Yes. In my experience too a spear against single arming sword is a very solid advantage.
However in a 1-on-1 situation where the person with the sword has a shield then the balance shifts the other way, whether or not the spear-user is also using a shield, and particularly if the combatants are armoured rather than just striking for a touch before the bout is reset.
What has happened in most spear-vs-sword fights that I've been in (on both sides) without that limitation is the spear-user getting a lucky hit in as the combatants close, devolved into wrestling, or ended with the spear-user desperately backing up away from the sword and shield trying to gain distance and the sword-user pressing them around the area until they get through their guard and land a hit that ends the match.

D&D is just not granular enough to take into account how specific weapon combinations work however. (And really bad at representing shields.)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Put a guy with a spear (no throwing allowed) up against a guy with a sword. They are going to win against the sword about 9 out of 10 times.
Spears aren't magical. I mean, in D&D you can have a magic spear, but no, they aren't some uberweapon that by design suddenly beats all others.

You know why we know this? Because swords actually got used in the real world, a lot. The real world doesn't use game stats, and has no raise dead. If spears actually won 9 times out of 10 because of the weapon, and not the user's skill, then noboy'd use a sword.

In reality, if you put a single person with a sword and a single person with a spear against each other, then it is all up to skill. Realistically, the guy with the spear has one single chance to hurt his enemy, after which that guy with a sword is inside the spear's reach, and his weapon is useless.

Oh, and the guy with a sword probably has a shield to take that first hit, after which, he's inside the spearman's reach, and the spearman is toast.

This is why spears and pikes are usually used in groups - so that getting inside the spear's reach is hard.
 
Spears aren't magical. I mean, in D&D you can have a magic spear, but no, they aren't some uberweapon that by design suddenly beats all others.

You know why we know this? Because swords actually got used in the real world, a lot. The real world doesn't use game stats, and has no raise dead. If spears actually won 9 times out of 10 because of the weapon, and not the user's skill, then noboy'd use a sword.

In reality, if you put a single person with a sword and a single person with a spear against each other, then it is all up to skill. Realistically, the guy with the spear has one single chance to hurt his enemy, after which that guy with a sword is inside the spear's reach, and his weapon is useless.

Oh, and the guy with a sword probably has a shield to take that first hit, after which, he's inside the spearman's reach, and the spearman is toast.

This is why spears and pikes are usually used in groups - so that getting inside the spear's reach is hard.
It doesnt involve magic. It involves a spear being a deceptively good weapon. Did i mention anything about magic irl or are you saying u just assume im psychotic (i mean this in the way of the actual psychological term. I wasnt being sloppy just snarky)? You may want to look into just how much of an advantage a spear has against a sword typically in combat. Its immense. Ive exaggerated nothing.
 

Cap'n Kobold

Adventurer
Lindybeige had a great spear vs sword HEMA video. Basically, 1 on 1 duel a 2-handed spear mostly beats sword, even sword & shield, but spear & shield is poor 1-on-1 since once the foe has closed in the spear is too clumsy to use effectively in one hand.

Basically you are right, spear is a superior battlefield weapon, but it did show that spear + shield is only for group combat. Swords are sidearms, like pistols, and have rarely been a primary weapon.
That fits. In a battlefield or group situation, pressing the attack through the spear's optimal range into the sword's optimal range gets you stabbed by the people to the side of your opponent. Unless you can get the entire line to push at the same time, but real people with no hitpoint mechanics are generally reluctant to risk getting stabbed on the way in to a line of pointy. :)
If the lines do close, then its generally the front lines shoving and using their swords, and the next ranks poking with spears. (Generally however, both sides will have spears.)
 
That fits. In a battlefield or group situation, pressing the attack through the spear's optimal range into the sword's optimal range gets you stabbed by the people to the side of your opponent. Unless you can get the entire line to push at the same time, but real people with no hitpoint mechanics are generally reluctant to risk getting stabbed on the way in to a line of pointy. :)
If the lines do close, then its generally the front lines shoving and using their swords, and the next ranks poking with spears. (Generally however, both sides will have spears.)
One on one the polearm weilder will wreck the sword weilder (and most non projectile weilders) a signifficant majority of the time. Even if not in a line. It just gets worse in a line on line match up is all
 
Spears were cheap, easy to make, and easy to use. Swords were expensive, difficult to forge, and took a lot of training. If spears were universally superior, swords would never have existed.
Wrong. Niches exist. Redundancies exist. Trying to be rounded exists. Also some spear heads were really expensive. Some swords were cheap. Flalcies falacies falacies.
 

dave2008

Hero
It doesnt involve magic. It involves a spear being a deceptively good weapon. Did i mention anything about magic irl or are you saying u just assume im psychotic (i mean this in the way of the actual psychological term. I wasnt being sloppy just snarky)? You may want to look into just how much of an advantage a spear has against a sword typically in combat. Its immense. Ive exaggerated nothing.
He was using "magic" metaphorically, not literally. A dangerous thing to do on this forums, but by context I thought it was fairly clear. Just thought I would point it out as you seemed to have missed it.
 

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