Sunday, February 7, 2016

How-To: Whips

Nope, no Devo references,
we are better than that.
I have a player using a whip. Whips are a pretty subtle and a not-so-straightforward weapon. They don't do especially good damage, they have some weaknesses when parrying, and they are pretty slow. They are, however, good at disarming and they can have a really good range. Let's take a look at how we can make whips more effective.

Basic Set - Characters

From page 274
  • The base whip has a 0.5 armor divisor. This isn't so bad if you fight a lot of enemies with absolutely no armor, but a big problem otherwise.
  • Whips have swing based damage meaning it gets stronger faster at high strength levels than thrust based weapons.
  • It has a -2 and Unbalanced parry, almost meaning parries are off limits.
  • A version can be bought for any length from 1 to 7 yards in reach, but price, weight, and strength increase linearly. Furthermore, whips longer than two yards take longer to ready between attacks.

Basic Set - Campaigns

From about p. 406.
  • Whips get a +2 in a Disarming quick contest.
  • Whips can entangle at -4 to skill. When the hit to entangle succeeds, roll a quick contest of ST to immobilize the opponent. Succeeding keeps the opponent immobilized, failing means the whip is pulled away.  The enemy cannot move until you release the whip. If it pulled the whip away from you, it'll take at least 3 seconds to untangle itself. The neck and legs are especially good targets.
  • A two yard whip takes one extra ready maneuver between attacks; A three yard whip (or longer) takes two extra ready maneuvers between attacks.
  • A whip can be cracked at -4 to skill, this gives +2 to damage.
  • A whip is super painful and hitting a hand or arm requires the opponent to roll against will - shock penalties to not drop a weapon.
  • A kusari has many of the advantages of the whip, but generally is better in a fight. It is, however, a hard difficulty skill, and it can be used at Whip-3.

Martial Arts

  • Rules for fast-drawing and tying up someone with a whip exist.
  • Techniques exist for Cracking the whip and for entangling.
  • Rules for creating a technique to remove the -2 to parry exist (p.92)
  • An urumi is a more expensive weapon with higher damage that is used with the whip skill, but can only be used for "conventional" attacks.
  • There are no especially relevant martial arts focusing specifically on a whip, but kusarijutsu can be looked at for ideas. Kusari have a mix of features from flails and whips, so it cannot be robbed wholesale.

My Recommendations 

  • Disarming or Targeted Attack (Whip Swing/Hand) or Targeted Attack (Whip Swing/Arm); Targeted Attack (Whip Swing/Neck); Entangle, and Crack all seem like decent techniques to learn. Crack especially if you want to do more damage, one of the first three if you want to remove weapons from your opponents, and targeting the neck with entangle if you like strangling.
  • Buying a balanced "Dwarven" whip (even if it doesn't make sense) combined with a technique to remove the -2 to parry (also doesn't make an especial amount of sense) can make parrying worthwhile possibly.
  • An urumi is a possible backup weapon for non-human enemies where disarming techniques might be useless.
  • Long Whips might not be worth it for the two readies. I might houserule that these readies could be mitigated using fast-draw, and multiple readies could be mitigated with the rules for Multiple Fast-Draw on page 103 of Martial Arts. (EG, clearing two readies at once is like rolling to fast-draw two weapons at once) An even better approach might be a new skill altogether called Fast-Ready, which functions like the house rules for Fast-Draw I just mentioned, but doesn't conflict with RAW which says that Fast-Draw is only for the first time a weapon is drawn, not for repeated readyings.
  • With Swing based damage, Weapon Master might be an option for very high strength users.
  • Better damage might be achieved through money instead of character points from some of the weapon modifiers in Low-Tech, Low-Tech Companion 2, Martial Arts, and Dungeon Fantasy. Specifically, removing the armor divisor as per Low-Tech Companion 2, and Adding Dwarven from Dungeon Fantasy 1. Crushing damage doesn't get bonuses for fine or very fine, but extrapolating from some examples on cinematic rule of cool weapons, a bladed whip might only cost 50% more than the already pretty low price, and then bonuses to damage for fine or very fine would apply.


  1. The Devil's Fist fighting style from the Way of the Warrior Pyramid issue includes Whip skill and some techniques for it. I've actually been kicking around a concept for an evil sorceress who specialises in Diabolism and that fighting style.

  2. Ah! That might be something for me to check out.


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