Today while doing a home improvement project I had occasion to walk around the house with a dueling version of the venerable “Ten Foot Pole” from Dungeons and Dragons.
Well, not too much – the pole was nine feet long.
Boy was it a pain in the butt. My basement has ceilings that range from seven to nine feet, with nine being the distance, MAYBE from concrete to up inside the joists.
But to wander around with such a thing? In anything resembling a real dungeon? Icky and annoying.
Heck, I self-imposed this on myself while playing Cadmus, my character in the Pathfinder-inspired GURPS Dungeon Fantasy campaign I play in on Tuesdays. He’s an axe-and-shield guy, but I wanted him to also be skilled in a long weapon, and so I chose a dueling poleaxe, with spear, hammerhead, and pick. But realistically, a Reach 2,3 (6-9 foot beyond the 1-yard hex he’s standing in) weapon is just unwieldy. I kept making jokes to the GM about “can’t I have one of those Highlander polearms, that you can just procure out of nowhere and that doesn’t encumber you at all?”
GURPS gives Bulk ratings only to ranged weapons; Holdout penalties in the Basic Set come close, but top out at -6 for a “heavy sniper rifle,” and a bastard sword is -5. A longbow, which is going to be six or seven feet long, is -8. I came up with a formula (as I always do) for Bulk as a function of length for The Deadly Spring (my article in Pyramid #3/33) making Bulk equal to 9 – 9*log(weapon length in inches). If you have a crossbow, add the length of the bow-part to the length of the stock. So a 9-foot pole is -9, and a 10-footer is -10.
If you apply this (or some fraction thereof) as a penalty to DX to move around with the damn thing, especially in a hurry, well, given how many times I banged it into the ceiling, it reality checks well.