I would like for followers of one of my characters to be a Phalanx Fighting army. However, the feat Phalanx Fighting text states:

If you are using a heavy shield and a light weapon...

If I wanted followers to use spears to also set and receive charges against the shield wall and benefit from the Phalanx Fighting feat; is there a version of a spear that is also a light weapon?

I would rather not spend a bunch of gold for Feycraft and take the penalty on damage. I am unsure on whether stacking Mithral and Darkwood (kind of sort of making it "light") would be acceptable by my DM, which would also be rather expensive.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Remember, don't link to websites that will go down. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Mar 21 '15 at 4:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, do you require the weapon to itself be settable for a charge? \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Mar 21 '15 at 4:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Braced for Charge feat from Dragon Compendium might help prospective answers to this question. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Mar 21 '15 at 5:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BrianBallsun-Stanton Well, I would like to keep the spear vs. chargers funtionality. Is there a version of a spear that is light, and doesn't allow being set against a charge? \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Mar 21 '15 at 5:40

No weapon meets your criteria...

There's no published weapon that's both light and that one can ready an action to set against a charge. The weapons that one can ready to set against a charge are listed below.

  • Simple 1-handed: none.
  • Simple 2-handed: longspear (PH 116, 119); spear (PH 116, 121); sword crossbow bayonet (CS 109).
  • Martial 1-handed: trident (PH 116, 121).
  • Martial 2-handed: halberd (PH 117, 118).
  • Exotic 1-handed: none
  • Exotic 2-handed: battlehorn (Sa 95, 96); dwarven double spear (RS 154, 155); dwarven urgrosh (PH 117, 121); dwarven warpike (RS 155); heavy poleaxe (CW 154, 157).

A few more weapons that can be set against a charge are in Dragon magazine articles (for example, several are presented in Marmell and Bulmahn's "The Point of Polearms: A Comprehensive Guide" (Dragon #331 23-8)), but none of those weapons that I've found have been light. The ability to ready a weapon against a charge to deal double damage to the charger is surprisingly rare.

...But there's a workaround

A Medium soldier can be given a trident designed for a Small creature. The Player's Handbook on Inappropriately Sized Weapons says that

The measure of how much effort it takes to use a weapon (whether the weapon is designated as a light, one-handed, or two-handed weapon for a particular wielder) is altered by one step for each size category of difference between the wielder’s size and the size of the creature for which the weapon was designed. (PH 113).

Thus such a soldier would suffer a −2 penalty on attack rolls with the for-him-a-light-weapon Small trident, but he could also ready an action to set it against a charge. That penalty on attack rolls on an army level, however, could be problematic.

The feat Allied Defense: A possible alternative

The nonelite array (13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8) (MM 290) grants any creature that's usually stuck with its ability scores a bit of wiggle room without altering the creature's Challenge Rating. A warrior with Intelligence 13 qualifies for the feat Combat Expertise (PH 92). A human warrior who takes the feat Combat Expertise meets the prerequisite of the feat Allied Defense (Shining South 19), and the feat Allied Defense is awesome...

Allied Defense (ShS 19)
You are good at protecting nearby allies.
Prerequisite: Combat Expertise.
Benefit: Whenever you use Combat Expertise to gain a bonus to Armor Class, any adjacent ally gains the same bonus.
Normal: The Combat Expertise feat only grants you an Armor Class bonus.

... if the DM rules that each creature using the feat is a different source instead of ruling the feat is the source. I wouldn't expect a favorable ruling if trying to use this feat on the army level.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I wasn't aware of this feat. Very interesting. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Mar 22 '15 at 0:10

It doesn't appear there are any light spears (or any light weapons which can braced against a charge at all). However, that doesn't necessarily mean you can't use the feat, you just need to modify your formation.

Most "spear/shield" walls are two men deep, at least. In this terrible, terrible diagram, T represents targeted or threatened squares, S represents the shield wall (heavy shield and let's say short swords), and R represents the spear wall (longspears all around).


Note that this formation is most effective against infantry charges. If you are expecting a cavalry charge, your best bet is to equip your front line with longspears, heavy shields, and short swords (or other light weapon of your choice). They should start combat with their longspears out, but after using them to counter the cavalry charge (which is likely conducted with lances), should drop the spears and switch to their shield and light weapon to maximize their melee survival.

Note that in either formation, the back row can carry shields and light weapons as well to switch to when front-liners go down.


Another worthwhile note is that armor spikes count as a light weapon, so anyone using spiked armor and a heavy shield can qualify for the Phalanx Fighting bonus regardless of their main weapon, by strict rules-as-written. (As a DM, I would probably not permit the bonus while they were actively attacking with a non-light weapon, but let it apply otherwise, so that someone equipped with spiked armor, a shortspear, and a heavy shield could gain the bonus if attacked by anyone who neither triggered a readied shortspear attack nor provoked an attack of opportunity that the character took with the shortspear.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. I didn't think about Armor Spikes. I will have to see what my DM considers "using." If he considers just having armor spikes as using them, or attacking with armor spikes as using them... lots to think about now. In this regard, spiked gauntlets may also work. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Mar 21 '15 at 5:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ That may be a good question to ask in it's own right. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Mar 21 '15 at 6:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Light shield is a light weapon and heavy shield is one-handed weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Mar 21 '15 at 13:41

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