All those weapons on the D&D equipment list? Y'know the one where a spear does more damage than a shortsword and both do more damage than a dagger? Those are pretty much military weapons.
That is: they're good weapons if you're hundreds of guys in formation trying to take a hill and trying not to hit each other. But you're not--if you were hundreds of guys in formation trying to take a hill then why would you be wasting time reading this blog and how are you doing that, seriously, are you all just crowding around the screen and reading it or do you have one of those big Nasa rooms with a big computer projector or....anyway....
Here are some weapons that make less sense for hill-acquisition and more sense for skirmishing in a room and how that works.
A hook on a pole.
A hook? Yeah, a metal hook on a pole--like they yank Gonzo offstage with on the Muppet Show. Like some pole-arms basically are this almost but still kinda basically military pokey weapons. But think of it this way: Your party's fighter is smacking a bugbear around. You are unengaged and have some free space to maneuver (less likely situation on a battlefield, right?). Just slip your hook behind the bugbear and...smack Foe is prone.
What do you say to the GM?
"Look, if it was a tripwire I could see our fighter getting tangled up in it, if it was a hooked pole-arm I could see maybe accidentally jabbing the fighter with it when I'm poking into the melee, but this is just the perfect tool for the job is it not? I have to hook, then yank after I'm sure I got the right guy..."
"Ok, roll to hit, ignoring armor..."
A grappling hook on a chain.
Not so good for tripping people already engaged in melee but great as a missile weapon, melee weapon (might as well be a morning star), distance entangler (beats a whip 75% of the time), monster-choker, dropped-object grabber and a shield (ok, I'm going to spin this grappling hook around me really fast and you try to hit me with that sword).
And in sci-fi settings? Did I ever tell you about that time in Murdermaze I had 3 hit points and killed 6 guys with nothing but a grappling hook gun and a tape recorder?
Scrap Princess gives some love to an eastern grappling hook cognate:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kusari-gama for example. Can be used up close, but also can reach, entangles, is a short hard to cut rope (if the chain version), a plausible grappling hook , and tidies up small like for easy storage.
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And Jurgen M, a certified ninja, adds:
A kusari-gama is actually a very good choice, although I would suggest a lesser-known but a bit more versatile variation on the same kind of weapon, the kyoketsu-shoge (e.g.http://nen-nen-nen.tumblr.com/image/42489109241 ). Instead of the sickle, it has a dagger with a hook, and on the other end there's a massive metal ring that's good to throw around or use as a blunt weapon in melee.
As someone who has trained with (and against) this weapon I can attest that it is extremely difficult as a sword fighter to close in on someone wielding such a chain weapon if he knows what he's doing. And if you manage get into sword range, you then have to deal with someone dual-wielding a dagger and a bone-breaking metal ring.
For very tight spaces such as a narrow dungeon corridor, I would choose a kusari-fundo which is better suited to such environments. It's basically a shorter chain with a weight on each end. The kusari-gama and kyoketsu-shoge need a little more room to use all their potential.
Yes yes there's the smoke and you're probably underground but most GMs are pretty forgiving about that. Remember: animals are dumb. As far as a crocodile or carrion crawler is concerned if you just jabbed them with a torch you might as well have short sworded them then cast Cause Fear. And something hairy like a mastodon? That thing is now out of the fight--just give it some room to run. (This, incidentally has been cited as one reason elephant cavalry never totally eclipsed horse cavalry in the east--they're flammable and easily panic easily.)
And then there's being on fire. Ongoing damage makes people sad, even if it is just d4. Set someone's backpack on fire sometime and see how long it takes them to drop everything and put it out. So have your thief do that.
You can see why maybe a bunch of people tightly packed together with pikes wouldn't want to be throwing oil around, but that's only because it's too good. Fire trashed more Japanese cities than all the ninjas put together in the history of ninjas.
Whose armor works against a net? Nobody's. Who wants to hang out in a net? Nobody. What happens to flying monsters when a net lands on them? Horrible things.
There's a reason gladiators used them.
Like a net, but for longer distances. Have the ranger roll to bola against AC 10 then everybody else on your side gets a bowshot against the now-immobilized wizard.
Blankets and sacks and handsfuls of dust:
You have to be like 15th level to cast Power Word: Blind. Unless you brought a bag. Or a jar of like baking soda.
Bonus for 3e players: this version even works on foes with more than 200 hit points.
|This is a wholly valid tactic|
This is the fun part though: it's a toolkit. Using different things for different situations is the whole point. Those orcs just rolling d20 over and over against your chainmail and getting all excited because their pole-arm does d10 get what they deserve.