Pike Pole
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Basic Information

A Pike Pole is a non-weaponized tool on a long haft. Basically, a pike pole is to a polearm, what a claw hammer is to a warhammer. At the end of the long pole there may be a hook, a sharp point, a dull prodding head, or even a manipulative claw.

Pike poles of various sorts are used in a variety of different tasks and occupations, and some of the more specialized version are differentiated by other technical names. Here's some examples:

  • Coast guard or other waterborne first responders may have a blunt-tipped pike pole to reach out and rescue people in choppy water.
  • Firefighters often employ pike poles to break through walls or windows (either to gain access to an area, or to ventilate it to reduce the risk of smoke inhalation), prod to determine if debris is still burning, remove objects from a fire, clear a firebreak, etc. They are sometimes called a ceiling hook, and when a fire engine is referred to as a hook and ladder truck, the "hook" part is derived from the pike poles it carries. Historical fire-fighting pike poles generally had a wood shaft, but modern-day ones are usually made of fiberglass.
  • Fishermen may use a fishing gaff to spear fish. Sometimes these are deployed en masse in ice fishing, where large numbers of hooks are put through holes in the ice to create sort of an artificial thicket that faces down into the water.
  • Linemen use insulated pike poles to maintain and handle power lines.
  • Log drivers or lumberjacks and use a pike pole called a rafter's hook, a peavey, a cant hook, or a ring dog to steer logs on a river, fashion a raft, break up a log jam, and generally maneuver and manipulate dismembered trees especially in situations where getting too close could be hazardous (such as near the blades of a saw mill).
  • Sailors and stevedores may use a boathook to help a boat maneuver around a dock. This version often has a blunt tip for pushing off, and a side hook for use in pulling your boat closer. In a pinch, it can be used to reach out to someone who fell overboard. (Note that the long-hafted boat hook is generally distinct from the much shorter hand-tool version often known as a longshoreman's hook.)

Where there is no tool mounted on the end and you have what is quite literally a pike staff, it still has the occasional use - probably first amongst which the quant pole used to propel punts and other similar craft in shallow water. Used properly surprisingly large craft can be driven like this, including sampans, river barges and timber rafts. When someone mentions a barge pole - and what they would or would not touch with it - this is what they are referring to. You could probably pole-vault with it as well - the Dutch were historically relatively well known for vaulting between their flood control dykes on long poles.


Game and Story Use

  • Could be a life-saving tool if you find yourself in trouble in a fire, in deep or rough water, or around an unstable pile of timber.
  • Seems like it would be an interesting improvised weapon that could be found in a variety of locations for impromptu fight scenes.
    • A character who works in one of the professions mentioned above is likely to have one of these tools at the ready, and if they took a level in badass, they might be able to use it with a talent that goes beyond "improvised".
    • If you don't mind the loss of penetrating ability, a pike-pole should probably be usable in much the same way as a pike (although balance may be a slight issue) - indeed it's probable that a lot of pikemen started their training on a pike pole and were issued a pointier object once they passed basic.
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