The "Awlpike" from Dragon Compendium p.110 has the following entry:

Built similarly to a longspear, the awl pike is almost 15 feet long. You can strike opponents 15 feet away with it, but you can't use it against foes closer than that. If you use a ready action to set an awl pike against a charge, you deal double damage on a successful hit against a charging character.

The feat "Shorten Grip" from Dragon Compendium p.108 grants the following benefit:

When wielding a pole arm with reach that you are proficient with, you may treat the weapon as if it did not have reach. The weapon is unwieldy when used in this fashion and you take a -2 penalty on attack rolls when attacking an opponent you normally could not.

The feat "Short Haft" from Player Handbook 2 p.82 grants the following benefit:

As a swift action, you can choose to lose the benefit of wielding any reach weapon other than a spiked chain or a whip. In return, you can use that weapon to threaten and attack spaces adjacent to you. With another swift action, you can give up this feat’s benefi t in order to regain the use of your weapon’s superior reach.

My question is: "Would any of these feats apply to the Awlpike in some way?"

I remember the feat "shorten grip" from Dragon Magazine #331 specifically stating that this feat cannot be applied on the Awlpike, yet although Dragon Compendium cites the same issue as the source of both the feat and the item, it does not exclude the Awlpike anymore.

As for "short haft" from PH2 there probably was no 3.5e precedent for a weapon with a reach of 15ft. save the whip, which has separate rules as a reach weapon and which has been excluded from the feat.

It seems to me that RAW there is nothing that would prohibit using one of these feats with an Awlpike, though it seems odd to me because RAW again you would be able to strike adjacent foes but not foes 10ft. away. As a DM I'd be tempted to either allow the player to shorten the Awlpike to a 10ft. reach but not to 5ft as the feat would normally allow - or exclude the Awlpike from being used with these feats altogether.


Your memory is correct that the article "The Point of Polearms: A Comprehensive Guide" (Dragon #331 23–8) by Bulhman, Marmel, et al. does in the Shorten Grip feat's benefit say, "You cannot use this feat with the awl pike" (28), and you're correct that limitation is absent from the description of the feat Shorten Grip in the Dragon Compendium Volume 1 (28). Likewise, because outside of Dragon magazine there are no Wizards of the Coast polearms that possess a 15-ft. reach (other non-Dragon Wizards of the Coast weapons with reaches of 15 ft. being whiplike), the Player's Handbook II could safely ignore the existence of the relatively obscure awl pike. (This is, however, an oversight on the part of the PH2 as PCs can easily become Large or bigger and see their reach weapon's reach double or more.)

That said, this DM has had in a campaign a PC that employed the awl pike and that took the feat Shorten Grip—and, for fun, the almost broken feat Child of the Shadow (Savage Tide Player’s Guide 12)—, and used them precisely as written so that the PC could not strike creatures that were exactly 10 ft. away from the PC. (When the PC needed to strike creatures 10 ft. away, he'd draw his longspear—no, I'm not kidding.) Verisimilitude was slightly strained, but not to the degree that anyone said, "I find this unbelievably stupid so you're a bad DM, Chan, and I'm leaving your campaign!" or anything, especially compared with what the other PCs were doing.

Keep in mind that allowing the feat Shorten Grip or Short Haft to reduce the awl pike's reach from 15 ft. to 10 ft. instead of either feat having their printed benefit makes the feats more versatile: There're many ways a creature can threaten squares adjacent to it without hands, like with armor spikes or an (improved) unarmed strike, so being able to threaten 10 ft. away and 15 ft. away is better than being able to threaten 15 ft. away and 0 ft. away for most folks that are considering the awl pike as a life choice.

Making a house rule that says that the awl pike doesn't work with either feat is an option, but polearms, in my experience, need the feat support, and this house rule will disappoint your player who's considering the awl pike.

This DM recommends letting the rules work the way they say they work, and, if they become problematic in your campaign—unlike in mine—, then consider changing the rules. However, warn the awl pike user of the possibility of a future house rule beforehand.


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