Defeating Ermikol the Chaotic. A mechanics inspired story.
Ermikol is of course based upon the iconic art in the AD&D DMG by David A. Trampier which shows a character (a presumed wizard identified as Ermikol the Chaotic) casting a spell while riding away on a horse in a town.
Technically there may be some argument against riding at full speed and casting a spell, but the mage can walk at 3″ and cast (CF DMG description of the Fly Spell) so having another character carry the mage especially in an upright position seems to be within the realm of possibilities.
Ermikol looks pretty hard to stop, and any player may decide this is something in character for a Chaotic character to do. Which means we should ask the question of how should someone (like a DM) prepare for players approaching a town as a place to raid, cities as their fair game and other distracting behaviours?
By using the rules as presented of course!
This is a particularly tough situation for most GM’s to deal with in one way or another since by the rules this is actually a pretty effective tactic. If there is a high movement person (actually someone riding a high movement Mount) they can start one end or another in a town, work the way through the streets just by randomly choosing them and then what is a person, group or party going to do? There’s a couple things to do: first step is to slow the person down. The second is remove as many tools as possible. Then the next is convince the operator it is a bad idea in general, sometimes via making an example often through death.
The first step in countering the tactic is a need to remove the horse or other mount from the equation. There is the option to target and kill or disable the problem but people aren’t really happy with the kill the horse option so is there another path? The answer is yes there is all that needs to be done is for the character to be dismounted. There is a rule in 1st Edition AD&D that lets you Dismount an opponent if they make it successful to hit roll. The weapon is any italicized weapon on page 38 of the PHB which is about half of the polearm weapons in the PHB.
If the wizard has backup tools or items, say for example a wand or staff the character can use an order to activate various Powers there is a second item that will be useful in reducing the combat dangers this character possesses is A Ranseur or Glaive according to the Unearthed Arcana can be used to disarm an opponent by hitting an armor class of 08. (Spetum in PHB is added if desired).
Simply by having ye olde Town Guardsmen trained in these 2 weapons a town can effectively change how people use this particular tactic making it far less effective and reducing the amount of disruption a player character or even NPC actions can have against a thoughtful group or even some individuals.
This also makes a fighter less of a meat shield. Now you have a btb choice of Weaponry enabling anyone controlling a well built fighter to figure out how best to deal with a situation with more tools than just “I swing at it and hope I hit”. For example: goblins riding wolves, an evil fighter with a powerful glowing magic sword. destroy the synergy by either knocking them off their mounts or get it out of his hands while the rest of the party beats on them.
I think this was part of what Gary Gygax was going for, mostly, with the huge variety of weapon forms, and in fact probably part of the reason why he did not see a reason for specialization in weaponry. Is it really useful to have situations where in you focus only on one or two weapons instead of using the right tool for the job? Not every situation needs a hammer.
These concepts are found, not only in the original player’s handbook, but are carried over and expanded upon in the Unearthed Arcana. Player characters specialized in a single weapon have sudden issues when that weapon is lost, meaning now any town guardsman can be a force to be contended with for that Longsword specializing fighter especially when they find themselves without their focus.