Fixing the Pike



OK, several things wrong with the pike, and we're going to try to fix them here.

First and foremost, the pick is not able to be set for charge, which of course is the ONLY reason it was ever invented, or effectively used. So...

Pike, deals double damage when using a ready action to set for charge.

Second, AP needs some work, since the average pikeman with a Str of 14 can't even penetrate a horse's natural DR not to mention any kind of barding or plate armour. But let's not go overboard. So...

Pike has it's AP increased to 3, and is doubled when set for charge.

Before, a rider on horseback charging a pike wielder, had it made. Say rider in breastplate, mail, and helm, Warhorse unarmoured. With readying an action for charge here is what would happen. Assume standard Warhorse, and human opponents of equal level.

1) Horse and rider get to 20' from pike wielder, pike wielder takes attack, hits, does not penetrate DR of 6, does 1d10+4 points of damage, average is 8, horse takes 2 hp has 22 left.

2) Horse and rider get to 15' from pike wielder, pike wielder takes AoO, hits and whalla another net 2 hp of damage.

(Even with one crit the horse lives on average, two crits seals its doom.)

3) Horse and rider move to 10' away, pike wielder out of AoO's and even if had combat reflexes could only attack rider at -4 penalty for cover.

4) Horse and rider get adjacent to pike wielder and slaughter him in a round or two.

Only a pike wall of 3 or more has any noticable effect on a single rider. This is pretty much exact opposite of the 3:1 attacker ratio needed to win a defended position.
I'd agree to those changes. I also feel the lances should double their AP values when used from the back of a charging mount.
There's one more advantage to the pikeman which you overlooked: any rider who takes damage must immediately make a DC 5 Ride check or be unseated, falling from the saddle and taking 1d6 damage.

I've always felt that DC 5 is trivial and pointless. A better check would be DC (5 + 1/2 damage taken).

Either way, it's always been dangerous to charge pikes, even in heavy armor. There's no reason to be shy about increasing the weapon's AP rating. Make it AP 6 if you want, and then double it when set to receive a charge.

As good as a pike is in formation, though, it's crap in one-on-one combat. It's fragile and unwieldy, and if somebody gets close enough to attack you, you must either drop it or eat an attack of opportunity every round as you move to a position where you can attack. This is as it should be.
I agree, DC 5 is pointless. Any mounted combatant will be able to make that check, even untrained.

Personally, I think the doubled damage and AP values when set for and receiving a charge are fine. I mean, 4-16 + 2.5x Str modifier is pretty beefy, even against DR 12 armor. There's always a chance a pike is gonna glance off a breastplate, it's what breastplates were designed to do in part. But a good solid hit is gonna knock some sense into that knight, especially on a crit.
I agree with the unwieldyness (word?) of the Pike, problem with the rider check, it is MUCH harder to hit the rider of a mount then the actual mount. The Rider will most likely have a higher Parry then the mount will have parry or dodge, throw in a shield and then on top of that the cover the mount provides... Looking at least a +7 to the DV just for shield and cover. So the rider would probally not even be the target. Oh and my above example did not even account for the Mounted Combat feat, which increases the chance of a hit not doing any damage.

Johannix, I'd agree with the lance from mount.
Hi gang,

I agree with the basic premise behind the suggestions posted in this thread, but have something to add.

I think that the Charge action ought to increase AP in Conan. How about a +2 To Hit, -2 to DV and +2 AP? I would also allow AP doubling when setting a weapon versus a charge.

When it comes to the lance I think it's pretty tough as is. Remember that with the Spirited Charge feat you deal triple damage (3d10) and with a regular charge you steal deal double damage (2d10). I think if the charge action added an AP bonus that would be more than enough.

Another house rule to consider when charging on the back of a mount, is to use the higher Strength rating of the rider or mount to determine damage.


I just looked at the Bill and Pollaxe, and they should probably have dual AP ratings, because there's no way they'd be that effective against a charge, compared to the Pike. I'd probably lower them to an AP rating of 2 as well, but allow double the AP or perhaps a +4 when set versus a charge.
Johannixx said:
I'd agree to those changes. I also feel the lances should double their AP values when used from the back of a charging mount.

Are there stirrups in CONAN? This would make a huge difference. Lancers were important before the use of the stirrup but not as powerful.
"Olgerd, watching him impersonally, motioned him toward the stolen horse. Conan stumbled toward it, and every step was stabbing, throbbing hell that flecked his lips wiht bloody foam. One misshapen, groping hand fell clumsiliy on the saddle-bow, a bloody foot somehow found the stirrup."

from A Witch Shall Be Born

Hope that answers the question!
Yokiboy said:
Another house rule to consider when charging on the back of a mount, is to use the higher Strength rating of the rider or mount to determine damage.

Another option that I've considered but never bothered to work out an effective rule for, is to tie the effectiveness of a charge to the speed of a charge - one that gives the standard benefit to men charging but which scales upwards for charging horses or diving eagles.

e.g. for every 40ft (or part thereof) movement in a charge, the charging attacker gets +2 to hit and -2 to dodge and parry attempts. This would be normal for men, charging horses would get +4/-4, a creature that was diving into an attack with a movement rate of 90ft or more would get +6/-6 and so on.

Well, at some point, that speed is going to translate into making the charging creature more difficult to hit, not less.