Once upon a time, no adventurer would have dared leave the safety of Ye Olde Tavern without a healthy supply of iron spikes loading down his backpack. Any fool thoughtless enough to leave for an adventure was summarily marched back to Ye Olde Venturer’s Supplye Shoppe and forced to spend several precious gold pieces on these vital items of equipment.
However, times change. A new generation has arisen, unaware of the wisdom of the past (or more inclined to read encumbrance charts). These brash young Turks go forth without spikes, without sprigs of belladonna, even without stout 50’ lengths of rope! ...AND they expect to survive! It’s no wonder that this new generation of fair-weather adventurers isn’t ready for the challenges their elders faced! Why, I’ve even heard people complaining that they couldn’t tackle a mere ancient red dragon, the sort of creature that any adventurer worth his salt would slay before breakfast 30 years ago!
("You, in the back! I see you smirking! You wipe that right off your face, boy, or I’ll show you a use for an Iron Spike you hadn’t thought of!")
It’s obviously because these people think that iron spikes aren’t worth having around, so to clarify why the older, wiser adventurers ALWAYS carried iron spikes, I humbly submit the following:
101 Uses for an Iron Spike
1. Drive it into the ground to anchor a rope for climbing down walls and cliffs, or into sinkholes full of giant poisonous spiders.
2. Use it to wedge a door shut, winning a few precious moments to prepare against the horde of orcs beyond (Note: check first whether they have a cave troll with them. If so, don’t bother)
3. Use it to anchor a rope from your hotel room window, when escaping from your creditors. (Note: First see use number 2, above, but substitute the words "creditors" for "orcs")
4. Use them as impromptu thrown weapons. Very helpful when the fighters in your party are too stubborn and/or stupid to buy bows.
5. Use them as impromptu bludgeoning weapons. Very helpful against skeletons and similar creatures when the fighters in your party are too stubborn and/or stupid to carry bludgeoning weapons.
6. As above, but substitute "piercing" and a monster vulnerable to that sort of weapon, if you can think of one. Old birthday balloons cluttering up the house, for example.
7. "Accidentally" drop them on party members that gave you crap about carrying 40 pounds of spikes while they are climbing down the rope mentioned in number 1. Claim that you saw a spider.
8. Use them to delay metal-eating monsters while you flee to preserve your 4,000 gold piece masterwork K’tonian Plate Armor.
9. Use them to delay your Obsessive-Compulsive Mother-in-Law, who will stop to pick up the mess while you retreat to the nearest tavern.
10. Set 12 of them on the ground and challenge all comers to an impromptu game of Nim. Helpful while you wait for the oxygen to run out in some sinister deathtrap; you may die, but at least you won’t be bored.
11. Use them to chisel marks on the dungeon walls so you don’t get lost in some water-logged labyrinth. Generally this works by having every monster in the place come to check out what the ungodly racket is: You are eaten long before you have time to get lost.
12. Use them as impromptu writing implements. It’s helpful to know Cuneiform or Dwarven runes, but you can write on parchment or on your allies clean clothing if the spikes are rusty enough.
13. Throw them on the ground and see what I-Ching hexagrams they resemble. If you can’t decipher I-Ching hexagrams, make something up. The rest of the party won’t know, and it saves time arguing: "Ye signes foretell Doom shoulde we dare to press beyonde ye mystic portalle!"
14. They can be traded to superstitious natives in exchange for vitally needed supplies the tribe may have, such as water, long pig, tourist maps of the local ruins…
15. They can be traded to superstitious sailors: "This ‘ere’s a spike from ye fabled ‘Mermaid’s Pride’, ye ship o’ ye Sea King hisself! Ye man who carries it ‘ll ne’er see ‘is ship go down!"
16. They can be used to weight a sack or pouch as bait for pickpockets and cutpurses: "Look at how they are all guarding that sack! It must hold their treasure!"
17. They make dandy paperweights, as long as you don’t mind rusty smudges on everything.
18. They can be used to set up booby traps, or warning devices such as trip lines or cords attached to cans full of pebbles, once canning food is invented.
19. Don’t want the bad guys bashing your door? Just put a bunch of spikes through it, sticking out the opposite side!
20. Make a 10’ deep pit a lot nastier by lining the bottom with spikes. Make sure that your party has a dwarf whose hobbies include digging big holes.
21. One for the druids: Put spikes in those trees to stop the wicked foresters from havesting them. Of course, in a world without powered sawmills, this isn’t as much of a deterrrent, but trees live a long time! Those trees might still be around when automated sawmills are developed!
22. Use them to tie down giants and other large creatures, like the Lilliputians did Gulliver. Hey, it worked for a while…
23. On windy days, spike down lightweight party members. You wouldn’t want your elf blown away, now would you?
24. Have someone in your party craft them into weapons, which may not work well, but can be sold at craft fairs as dandy home decorations.
25. Polish it to a bright finish, then claim it’s a masterwork item worth lots of gold. People are bound to be impressed by your conspicuous consumption.
26. (Related to Number 19, above) Make your shield into a spiked shield! Much cheaper than having the spikes professionally installed!
27. Spike the deathtrap’s sliding block open. Generally this doesn’t work, but it may slow down your inevitable doom long enough for a quick game of Nim (See Number 10, above)
28. Spike the secret door open so you don’t have to remember whether that door was the one that had the trigger on the candelabrum or the one with the trigger on the andiron. When you’re a combat optimized warrior with the IQ of a housecat, those things can be frustrating.
29. When choosing who will go first into the corpse-strewn deathtrap chamber, decide by seeing who draws the "short spike". It is wise to first make sure that one of the spikes is actually shorter than the others.
30. When the party can’t agree which way to go, use one as an impromptu spinner.
31. Stake down a blanket over the 10’ deep pit the dwarf dug earlier (See Number 20, above)and throw brush over it to make a concealed pit trap. Even better, you can skip digging the pit and just do a slipshod job covering the blanket. Your foes will ASSUME that it covers a pit and waste time figuring out how to cross it while you pepper them with arrows (Note: See Number 4, above as well)
(To Be Continued Soon, when my brain stops hurting!)
Additional Ideas (19)
34. Spikes can be fired from crossbows, if proper bolts run low and accuracy is not particularly important, such as if an animated barn were attacking, broad side first.
35. Clerics without proper first aid supplies can use spikes for emergency trepanation. Injured party members aware of what trepanation entails have been known to experience miraculous recoveries at this prospect.
36. With a sturdy bowl, the spike can be used as half of a mortar and pestle. An experience bonus should be given for anyone who remembers which part is the mortar and which the pestle.
37. spikes could be used an impromptu percussion instruments. (Bards with healing skill can combine this with Number 35, above.)
38. A spike could be used on a nasty villainess... Apparently for shiatsu massage or the like...
39. They make excellent impromptu caltrops, if you can shrink them down a bit or have the foresight to buy some "Size: Petite" spikes.
40. They can be used to kill people in nameless and horrifying ways. Make an intimidation check, please: "Do you have any idea what this thing can do to a human body? Well, DO you?"
42. Attach two to the sides of a pair of boots to aid climbing hillsides, trees or ice.
45. Replacement teeth for large monsters.
47. Offer a spike as a “Thank the gods!” donation to the temple if you survive Number 46.
48. Use the spike to draw a summoning circle to summon something less dangerous, like Mrrrorw, Demon Lord of Rabid Housecats.
49. Offer the spike as tribute instead of your immortal soul.
50. When Number 49 doesn’t work, use the spike to drive off the demon, after all it’s cold iron!
51. Use the spike as an excuse to argue with the game master about the definition of cold iron, thus delaying your well-deserved demise at the hands of Mrrrorw, Demon Lord of Rabid Housecats
53-Good for wedging doors open.
(Regarding Number 53:) Just the ticket for those annoying squeaky doors!
54) One spike is driven into the floor or masonry on one side of a hallway. Another spike on the alternate side. A sturdy cord (or better yet a slightly elastic one) is strung between the two (make sure your spikes have a ring on the back side. This creates an impromptu trip trap for a monster. (Works best at an intersection, with our buddies hiding behind the walls of the intersection.
55) Related to 54, but the cord is strung at waist or chest height. Cause someone to chase you..
56) Related to 54, but the cord is strung between two trees at rider height. Get the knight to chase you... watch him get knocked off his horse. (Better if you use an slightly elastic cord).
(And people wonder why I buy either silk cord (painted/ dyed black) OR cable (if available))
57) Attach a cord to it. Slide it along a floor in a couple of places to trigger traps. Throw it through any beam of light to see if it triggers the trap.
58) With a cord attached, swing around and hurl at large target. If it embeds fine. If it entangles fine. Either way you can jerk or manipulate the large target
59) If a number of barrels are present, put a spike with a cord attached down. Put a barrel in a rolling position stoppered by the spike. Pile more barrels behind it. You have now created a triggerable trap. Tie the cord to another spike driven in the ground to create a trip triggered trap.
60) Do you know spikes can be used to create firewood for your campfire?
61) Do you know that spikes can help you break doors with the wedge and a small hammer, rather than a big brawn party member.
62) Drive the spike between the metal and the wood of a door... thus preventing it from swinging easily (or helping to break the door). Ever camp in a dungeon? Handy..
63) Use as darts instead of your normal throwing darts when you are running low.
And Domestic uses....
64) Heat them in the fire, then apply them to the bowls and sealed pots to cook food while you travel.
65) Use a heated spike to cauterize wounds or remove leaches.
66) Apply heated spikes to the delicate parts of a prisoner. For added incentive, drive them into the prisoner's limbs. (This counts as a domestic use for us, as we use it to "clean house". )
67) Heat many of them and put in clay pot, usually with sand. Using gloves or tongs, throw them onto to flamable items (hay, roofs of buildings, properly pooled oil, dry feces collected). (Also a domestic use, as it is very cleansing and good vs houses or stables).
68) Wedge them under the wobbly leg of a chair or table or bed in that cheap tavern.
And just because....
69) Pin sliding trap doors or floor traps so they can not open. (Nope not going to where the "use vs evil villainess" went).
71. They can be driven into pieces of wood to construct a ladder. After all, most dungeons have conveniently placed lengths of wood, right?
72. They can be used as an impromptu ruler to measure the size of a room. This works best if you know how long the spikes actually are.
73. They can be dropped to determine the approximate depth of a pit. (See Number 7, above)
74. They make extra-sturdy bookmarks.
75. Driven into the wall, they can be used to hang your good cloak near the dungeon entrance, so it doesn’t get dirty while you explore the doubtlessly filthy ruins.
76. They can be used to chisel holes in doors or the tops of wooden chests so that you can see what’s in them BEFORE you set off the poison needle trap on the lock
77. Concerned that thieves could pick your cheap locks? Drive an iron spike into the keyhole and forget your worries!
78. Leave one as a calling card on each of the bodies of your fallen foes: “The SPIKER has struck again!”
79. Too honorable to slay surrendering foes out of hand? Let him settle his fate in honorable combat... and give him an iron spike as his weapon! If he still wins, he obviously deserved to!
80. Fasten flowers to it and offer it to a passing giant as a corsage.
69) Pin sliding trap doors or floor traps so they can not open.
81) Make sure a cord is attached to the spike used above. Have the critter chase you. Cross the trap. Wait for it. Pull the spike. Watch the monster go "Squeel".
82) Have the Dwarve use mage's Heat Spells and use the spikes to temporarily repair armor and such.
(Oh and people, nobody wastes cold iron on spikes. )
83) In many cases, you can use them to help start fires with your flint and tinder.
Don't MAKE me turn that into a Sub! If you need information, just go to an old Bloom County comic and look up Bill the Cat.
85. Held in the hands as you explore, you are armed if someone attacks, but if you drop it and it gets lost, it cost a fraction of what a proper weapon would. It's best to prepare a dignified-sounding explanation of why you're carrying around a spike ahead of time, so you don't stand there looking dumb if someone asks.
86. Lashed to a stick, it's an impromptu ice ax or bec de corbin (military pick). If you down a foe using it, you can then mock them mercilessly.
87. (A suggestion from Murometz:) You can use it to blind monsters such as beholders. After all, you could put an eye out with one of those things!
88. If you let them have a hammer, children love to play with them. Find the villain's kids and let them have a bunch of spikes. The villain will be finding the accursed things for months afterward.
89. You can use them to punch small holes in things. Put decorative piercework in the fighter's shield. Jazz up the mage's spellbook. Make those gold coins into decorative pendants.
90. Worried that huge critters will swallow you whole? Rig impromptu spiked armor! They may still kill you, but at least they'll probably be sorry they swallowed you.
91. If you've ever been camping, you know that you can never have too many tent spikes.
92. Iron Spikes make dandy hairpins, for keeping your coiffure out of your eyes when you're in the heat of battle. As an example of why this is so important, suppose you're fighting a medusa: You wouldn't want to be petrified with your hair all messed up.
93. They make dandy field-expedient splints, for when you have just finished fighting Mrrrorw, Demon Lord of Housecats and you're out of Cure spells
94. Fasten them to poke into the inside of a large box or coffin: Poof! Instant iron maiden. Make sure that no one you care about is using the coffin when you install the spikes.
95. Worried that pickpockets will snatch your wizard's magic wands? With a little paint, Iron Spikes make convincing copies. Let those rogues just try to snatch the real wand when the wizard has 40 more poking out of every pocket, his boot tops, etc. Just don't let the GM see the wizard's strength score unless he's really bad at math.
97. Throw one away from you to make a guard-distracting noise.
98. Load twenty or so into a catapult and let 'er rip.
99. Strap a bunch to something that will shortly be exploding. Instant shrapnel.
Forsooth! 9 duplicate entries! You merely lack the poetic soul to appreciate our epic prose! A pox upon thy use-counting ways!
103. Can be used as darts for impromptu games while PCs camp for the night.
104. toothpick for a dragon.
105. Can be jammed in a wagon wheel to break the spokes, should work on chariots as well.
106. Can be juggled for amusement and pennies on a street corner.
1 Halfling (or Gnome, bloody light Human, Elf or 1/2 elf)
6 to 12 iron spikes for the afore mentioned character, plus 1 or 2 for the quivers of arrows
a few short (by comparison) lengths of rope
1 bow and 1 or 2 quivers of arrows
1 hammer (unless you really want to try and hammer them into the stone ceiling by hand), mace, hammer, or other top heavy implement would suffice.
Hammer spikes into ceiling
Secure character to spikes with rope, do the same for the quivers
Have everyone else looking docile below the character on the ceiling, playing the afore mentioned Nim with spare spikes if you wish.
Wait for unsuspecting bad guys to see you and move towards you - hope they fail their spot checks.
Wrap a rag soaked in oil around the head and light for a quick torch. (It is advisable to drive the spike into a stone wall, floor, or companion you've got a grudge with first.
109. To satisfy the desire for male companionship. (Everyone was think'n it, I just said it! :P )
110. In place of wooden stakes to secure your tent for the evening.
111. For makeshift tapping a tree to get sap or syrup from it. (A bucket would come in handy here)