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Old Screeds

Bec de Corbin [20 May 06] Reaching Old Friends.

bec de corbin

Playing Dungeons and Dragons back in high school, we had a lot of fun with character names. I've already blogged about random name generators, like the one we used to create such gems as Oje Zurn, 1/2Xdyw Peviwec, and, of course, Cayzle.

We also delighted in giving distinctive names to non-player characters. The best of those was a dwarf we named Richard Queen, in honor of the young embassy worker released before the other captives in the Iranian Hostage Crisis. He was freed on July 11, 1980, according to the Wikipedia. Here's a photo of Queen, at right (from this page), who was released early because of his multiple sclerosis. He died a few years ago; here is a PDF appreciation of his life.

Richard Queen

I suspect we named our dwarf after the man because of his full beard. He may have grown it because he was not allowed to shave in captivity, for all I know now, but I don't think that that ocurred to us back then. I donít know if we realized he came from Westchester County in New York, like us, or that he was only eight years older than we were. I guess it does show that we were marginally aware of real world events, even wrapped up in our play worlds as we were back then.

Other NPCs were named more flippantly. One gnome magic-user/cleric NPC became infamous after he used a Shocking Grasp spell to clear a pool of water of pirahna fish. We immediately named him Arthur Treacher, after the fast-food fish chain!

Then there was our "French" paladin NPC, Bec de Corbin. Of couse, he used a +2 bec de corbin, that is, a pole arm ending in a spike and a hammer. The bec de corbin did not survive the transition from first edition D&D to third, alas.

But for those who might wish to use such a weapon under 3E, here are some thoughts posted on EnWorld that might do the trick. I disagree with that write-up, however, because it does not treat the bec de corbin as a reach weapon, which I think it really should be. Were I making a bec de corbin for 3E play, it would look something like this:

Bec De Corbin
Cost: 20 gp (because of rarity)
Damage (small): 1d6
Damage (medium): 2d4
Critical: x3
Range: --
Weight: 10 lb.
Type: Bludgeoning or piercing
A bec de corbin has reach. You can strike opponents 10 feet away with it, but you canít use it against an adjacent foe. If you use a ready action to set the weapon against a charge, you deal double damage on a successful hit against a charging character.

And if you do want to use a bec de corbin, how do you go about it? Here are some tips on using your reach weapon.

Oh, and by the way, if you have access to Dragon Magazine #331, there's evidently an article on pole arms in it. If you read it, let me know what you think.

6 Feb 2017 Update: Okay, so ten years on the Internet is like, what, 700 years in the real world? So when I read this page from 10 years ago, I was sad and not surprised that most of the links from back in the day were busted. But praise Zeus, Odin, Vishnu, Jehova, and Cthulhu for the wonderful and essential Wayback Machine. Pretty much all links saved! Very little is lost forever on the Internet. Keep that in mind when you are tempted to be a jerk online -- 200 years from now, a history PhD candidate writing his thesis about Web trolls will be looking at you!

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