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!)
32) When trying to hide some items of uncertain purchase, place items in bag and weigh them down with a few iron spikes. Place pouch or bad in water and let sink. Only good if body of water is too deep to see to the bottom or murky. Not responsible if mer-creatures take pouch for reasons of dirtying their water, or if lost due to current.
33. Heated red hot, it can be used as an impromptu branding iron. Characters using this option may want to line their gauntlets with asbestos gloves.
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.)
As suggested/inspired by Murometz's comments below:
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?'
41. Place a number in a small leather sack and whack someone with it. Instant Sap.
42. Attach two to the sides of a pair of boots to aid climbing hillsides, trees or ice.
43-Scratch a nasty piece of ringworm-the pain will stop the itch and you now have a weapon that can infect wounds.
44. Take 3 spikes, tie them to the ends of 3 lengths of cord. Join the three lengths of cord. Instant bolas :)
45. Replacement teeth for large monsters.
46. (Pariah's Suggestion:) Use the spike to scratch out the summoning circle to summon a servant of Cthulhu.
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
52-Stake a vampire with it.
53-Good for wedging doors open.
If you 'know the environment' you never look for traps. After all, you know where they all are.
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).
70. They can be driven into a wall to function as a ladder. This is a good explanation for why you are carrying 100 iron spikes. Change the subject before they think to ask why you didn't just bring a ladder instead of nearly 50 kilos worth of spikes.
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.
as a review:
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.
84. In extremis, spikes can be tied to the end of a rope as a jury-rigged grapnel. Or, you can talk someone else into using it as a grapnel, then laugh as they plummet to their doom.
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.
100: You could build a golem Iron Spike Golem :)
101) One can always use a spike as a mighty weapon indeed if one is ever shrunk and whisked away to that inevitable, 'You All Shrink To Tiny Size!!...bwahaha' campaign.
Technically we have about 9 duplicate entries... but okay. It is a fun little scroll
102. The iron spikes can be sold to an ironmonger or a blacksmith.
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.
107. Can be used as leverage for a desperate swing once jammed into... say a stone giants head.
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)
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? Responses (35)
You forgot to mention the 10 foot pole! Nice one!
That'll be the next submission!
I love it, thats what I think. This post is the epitome of old school!!! The one, single defining post on pre-1985 gaming!
like the intro too!
hmmm..one of my PC's used an iron spike on a particularly nasty villainess once..oops, cant go there.
hmmm..a mage once shrunk his 10 iron spikes into caltrops and escaped a goblin band. Does that count?
hmmm..an iron spike can be used to kill people, or do you have that one already?
Good old school sub. Need one for the blanket and the crowbar... seen many uses for each.
I've seen blankets done in an old Dragon Magazine article, but crowbars... hmmm.
I've seen the blanket one as well and an impromptu one for the crowbar. Let me see if I can find it.
The world needs more Iron spikes!
I admit to be mildly amused. Nice one!
This is a lot of fun. Little tricks like this, and my 'utility belt' of little items, made me the bane of my dungeon master. (note: Just because I don't like dungeons does not mean I am not good at them...)
Memo to self: If GMing MoonHunter, have thieves steal his backpack ASAP, then keep it in the guildhouse as an example to apprentice rogues...
Well yes, but you never steal from a fellow guild member. And if you do, you go back and ask for either compesation or for them to do jobs for you.
And the traps that go off when they reach into the 'wrong' places, will teach them not to do that.
Besides, anyone who can get that belt (and vest) and its pouches deserves it.
That's why it would be such a good example!
So are we stalled at 83?
I'll come up with some more soon. I need time for my brain to refill.
100: You could build a golem Iron Spike Golem :)
I want an Iron Spike Tee-shirt!!!
Yes, one with a picture of some spikes and the legend, 'We thought that we were doomed, but I pulled out some iron spikes...' and on the back says, 'Strolen's House of Spikes - Fine Iron Spikes for over 5 years!'
108-use as a gag when kiddnapping someone.
108 is taken...
Fun Scroll, and full of handy concepts.