Hard

Default: prerequisite skill-5.

Prerequisite: Any appropriate Melee Weapon skill; cannot exceed prerequisite skill.

This is the technique of using a weapon with a projection - usually a hook - to snag a foe's head, limb, weapon, or shield in order to pull him off-balance. You can learn it for any Melee Weapon skill, but you'll need a suitable weapon to use it.

Hook is a common technique for Axe/Mace, Polearm, and Two-Handed Axe/Mace, but while picks and most axes can hook, maces and knobbed clubs can't - and only a few polearms sport hooks. It's possible to add hooks to weapons that normally lack them, such as spears and staffs. Some swordfighting schools even taught (gauntleted!) fighters to grab their weapon by the blade and hook with the pommel and crosspiece. Swords wielded this way use the Axe/Mace or Two-Handed Axe/Mace skill, and are unbalanced. See Chapter 6 for more on suitable weapons and the associated skills.

Roll against Hook to hit, modified for the target as noted below. Your adversary may defend normally. Hook doesn't usually inflict damage, but some weapons have an edged hook (see below). While using a weapon to hook a foe, you can't use it to attack or parry. You can always release or drop it as a free action on your turn, however.

If hooking the head or a limb, apply standard hit location penalties. If you succeed, then on subsequent turns you may attempt to pull your victim off-balance or even to the ground. Roll a Quick Contest of ST. If you win, you drag your opponent into a kneeling posture; if he's kneeling or crouching, he falls down. He can't stand until he breaks free or you release him. If you lose or tie, nothing happens. If you critically fail, you drop your weapon! Your foe may try to break free normally on his turn.

Hooking a weapon is an attempt to disarm; see p. B401. Apply the usual penalty to hit the weapon but ignore the -2 for a non-fencing weapon. You get +2 in the ensuing Quick Contest, in addition to the usual modifiers. If you lose the Contest, your opponent retains his weapon and escapes from your hook.

If hooking a shield, roll to hit at -4 plus its DB. If you succeed, you may attempt to pull it out of line. Treat this as an attempt to disarm, but your opponent gets +4 in the Quick Contest if his shield is strapped to his arm. You get +2 if hooking with a two-handed weapon. If you win, the shield becomes unready - it's still on your foe's arm but he can't block with it or benefit from its DB until he breaks free and takes a Ready maneuver to reorient it.

Certain weapons designed for hooking are sharpened on the inside of the hook. These include the Chinese hook sword and the European bill. Such weapons inflict the damage listed for their hook in addition to the above effects. If using the optional Pain and Breaking Free rule (p. 119), such weapons are very effective against lightly armored foes!

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