Optional Traits

Advantages: Combat Reflexes; Enhanced Parry (Polearm).

Disadvantages: Reputation (Always aims for the legs).

Skills: Knife; Parry Missile Weapons; Savoir-Faire (Dojo); Shortsword; Spear; Two-Handed Sword.

Polearm Fighting

The world has seen a mind-boggling variety of polearms - more than a few of which have been the subject of multiple fighting styles. Historians often dismiss these weapons as suitable only for mass combat and ill-trained peasant infantry. Historical warriors, on the other hand, often regarded polearms as ideal for man-to-man combat. Indeed, some Masters of Defence held certain varieties of bills and glaives to be superior to all other weapons! Of course, most of these martial artists used polearms that were shorter, lighter, and far more agile than the full-length battlefield weapons that historians read about in chronicles of old wars.

The specifics of polearm-fighting styles vary as much as the weapons, but a few principles are nearly universal. Polearm fighters normally hold the shaft in a Defensive Grip (pp. 109-111) and parry with both the blade and the haft. Most attacks are Defensive Attacks with the tip (thrusts). The warrior saves swings for fallen or disarmed foes - but uses Committed Attack (Strong) when he does swing. The fight consists primarily of using Evaluate and Wait to circle and look for an opening, or Feint to create one. Most styles avoid close-in fighting and seek to keep enemies at bay, although some teach kicking.

Chinese polearm styles differ somewhat in that while they're pragmatic, they also contain extravagant flourishes to impresses friend and foe alike. Polearm Art is a common addition.

For more on the weapons used in polearm fighting, see Chapter 6.

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