buying a 10 foot pole

It’s always struck me as kind of weird that a 10-foot pole was something you bought at a store. What kind of store sold it? A carpetry supplies store? An adventurer store, sold specifically for the purpose of tapping suspicious flagstones in ruins? Speaking of flagstones, could the 10′ pole possibly have been sold as a flagstaff?

1983 Basic equipment list.

1983 Basic equipment list.

The pricing of the 10′ pole has led to much mirth. The 10′ pole, unbelievably, made it as far as edition 3.5, where it sold for 2 silver pieces. A 10′ ladder sold for 5 copper pieces. The joke was always that for the price of a 10′ pole, you could buy 4 10′ ladders, remove the rungs, and end up with 2 10′ poles, which you could sell for a profit. Classic D&D economics.

The 10′ pole is also a classic disappears-while-not-in-use item, like a wizard’s familiar. My mind’s eye picture of a 10′ pole is of a guy probing the floor with a stick that is clearly 5 or 6 feet long. 10 feet is about twice as tall as a person! Someone carrying one around would really have to have it in one of their hands, meaning they couldn’t have a shield or torch in their offhand. How else would you carry it? Strap it to your back? Horizontally? You’d have to turn sideways to go through doors. Vertically? You’d have to duck or bow. It would totally prevent you from crawling through any network of twisty little tunnels, all alike.

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7 Responses to “buying a 10 foot pole”

  1. katre says:

    This is, clearly, what all the henchmen were for.

  2. Locien says:

    Where ever you can buy lumber would be a good place, and likely a general store in an area frequented by adventurers would also sell them, but at a higher price. But yeah carrying the thing is glossed over as it would be one of those things that drive everyone nuts.

  3. Mike says:

    Back in the day, I think we used to say that the 10′ pole was foldable so you could carry it around more easily. We had no basis for that belief, but it was a convenient house rule.

  4. Ka says:

    A fancy folding/telescoping mechanism conveniently explains the extra cost, as well!

  5. Canageek says:

    As I recall they used a screw-together pole in one of the lankmar books, which we know were a source of inspiration for D&D.

  6. I think we had a screw together pole in my group.

    My own current pathfinder Loadouts project (free on my web page) includes one. I rather assume its a 3 piece pool cue thing.

  7. PGaither84 says:

    Bag of Holding

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