The pollaxe was popular for knightly judicial duels in 15th- and early 16th-century Europe. This weapon wasn't the massive "axe-head-on-a-shaft" described on p. B272, which was primarily suited for use by ranked soldiers. Rather, it was a shorter "dueling halberd" (p. 216) - sometimes with a toothed hammer instead of an actual axe blade - designed specifically for personal combat.

Knights normally gripped the pollaxe two-handed, like a staff, spacing their hands far apart and holding the shaft diagonally across the body. In game terms, this would be a Defensive Grip (pp. 109-111). Fighting was close-in, and favored jabs with the point and short swings over wide, sweeping blows that - while powerful - would expose the attacker. Another popular tactic was hooking the beak, blade, or spike behind the opponent's weapon, leg, or neck. Feints and Defensive Attacks were common, but a fighter would use Committed Attack (Strong) or All-Out Attack (Feint) if his rival seemed vulnerable.

Some pollaxes concealed a hollow space in the head that was filled with an irritant "blinding powder." Launching this is a dirty trick (see Dirty Tricks, p. 76). The attacker can use Polearm skill instead of DX to throw the powder if knows the appropriate Style Perk. However, roll 1d after any swinging attack with the weapon. On 1-2, the powder spills prematurely (and harmlessly). Any critical miss means the powder affects the pollaxe's wielder, in addition to the results on the Critical Miss Table!

Despite its fearsome appearance, the pollaxe was more popular in tournaments than in wartime. Some scholars believe that this was because it wasn't especially effective at penetrating armor - even a full-force swing would knock down an armored man without inflicting much injury. This is more a commentary on the fighters' armor than their tactics, which were certainly earnest enough. Practitioners should definitely learn combat skills, not Combat Sport skills.

The pollaxe lost whatever military utility it might have had once warfare became an issue of massed pikes and halberds rather than individual warriors. Some commanders still carried a pollaxe while leading such troops, however.

Skills: Brawling; Games (Knightly Combat); Polearm.

Techniques: Disarming (Polearm); Feint (Polearm); Hook (Polearm); Knee Strike; Retain Weapon (Polearm); Stamp Kick; Sweep (Polearm).

Cinematic Skills: Power Blow.

Perks: Grip Mastery (Dueling Halberd); Unique Technique (Powder Spill).

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