Hello everyone, and welcome to a bonus edition of War Talk. Today’s topic breaks the mold since it isn’t typically thought of as a tool of war. Rather than talk about an offensive or destructive weapon, I’d like to talk about the humble yet versatile shovel. While typically disregarded in favor of flashier and boomier weapons, countless soldiers from the Legionaries of Rome to the trenches of WWI would attest the shovel is an invaluable tool in any conflict.
How can a shovel be useful on a modern or fantasy battlefield, you ask? With a bit of creativity! There are many ways in which simple tools can change the course of a battle. These simple implements allow armies to operate from makeshift bases constructed in hostile territory, as well as create much needed cover on a battlefield. Offensive saps (tunnels dug under a structure) can be created to punch holes in an otherwise impregnable fortification. If a party is afforded preparation time before a conflict, there’s little reason not to seed a battlefield with pit traps and other similar advantages.
These are a small sampling of all the many wonderful uses and reasons a shovel has remained a staple of a soldier’s kit since antiquity. And they can be utilized in TTRPG in the same ways they had been used throughout history, but it’s also possible to augment them with spells like the Dungeons and Dragons Cantrip Mold Earth (a personal favorite that is oft maligned in online discourse). Get creative and change the landscape to your benefit. Most importantly, don’t forget how simple tools can change the game!
Do you have a tactic or weapon you’d like to see featured on this blog? Let me know in the comments below!