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5E 5E: Whips?

Dausuul

Legend
I've been looking at the whip and considering whether/how it can be effective as a weapon. What are your thoughts?

Offhand, I have trouble seeing a good use for the whip. Its 1d4 damage makes it sub-optimal for any class that relies heavily on weapon damage dice. Because it's not light, you have to have the Dual Wielder feat to use it as an off-hand weapon, which means you could be using a rapier in that hand. Is it really worth giving up 2 damage/round to have reach with one of your attacks?

The other possibility would be for classes like rogues that don't depend much on the weapon die, instead relying on big helpings of bonus damage. At first glance, a whip looks like the perfect melee weapon for a rogue--a reach finesse weapon! You can stand behind the fighter and sneak attack over her shoulder. But rogues aren't proficient with whips, so you'd either have to multi-class or spend a feat. And you're still down 2 damage/round compared to a rapier. All that adds up to a pretty hefty price tag just to get reach, especially since 5E makes it so much easier to sneak attack with ranged weapons.

As far as I can tell, the main use for a whip is if you think your DM will be amenable to letting you pull a lot of stunt moves with it. Otherwise, it sucks. Am I missing something?
 
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I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
It's pretty contextual. Possibly useful for Dex-based characters who don't want to get directly into melee with a creature they can't ranged attack for one reason or another. But certainly not an All The Time weapon, if you've got a choice.
 

Gecko85

Explorer
Perhaps if a character is proficient with the whip, allow them to disarm an opponent with it...Indiana Jones style. While not dishing out a ton of damage, that can be very helpful to the party.
 

Astrosicebear

First Post
Oh, come on. The spiked chain was grotesquely overpowered. I'm looking for a scenario where the whip is on par with other martial weapons, not outperforming them.
Hey, I'm on #TeamWhip.

Problem is for the whip to be useful you need a build. Or used to in older editions. If you want damage you go with a scorpion whip and rogue sneak. Or if you want to disarm, you do a master disarmer and all. But those require tons of feats or special features just to use a damn weapon.

Whips should grant advantage when used to trip or disarm, and should grant some bonus for grappling.
 

I'm looking for a scenario where the whip is on par with other martial weapons, not outperforming them.
It isn't on par with actual martial weapons nor should it be. If you are trying to kill someone, a sword really is MUCH more effective. It has utility uses such as disarming, swinging over pits and such but as a weapon of war it is a rather poor one as it should be.
 

ehren37

First Post
Oh, come on. The spiked chain was grotesquely overpowered.
Huh, I didn't realize the spiked chain gave you levels in a CoDzilla... ;)

RAW, the whip kind of stinks. Best fix is to add a feat that lets you wield them offhand and adds an additional bonus. Astrosicebear's suggestion of advantage on disarm/trip seems appropriate.
 

sigfile

Explorer
I started building (but never played) a battle master fighter / rogue with a whip and shield combo combined with the dueling fighting style and the shield master feat. He has better AC than a polearm fighter, his base damage-per-attack isn't horrible, he gets to use maneuvers and sneak attack at reach, and he gets the general utility that a whip provides.

Now that the question's come up, I may go back and take a harder look at that build. It feels like it'd be fun to play.
 


Sir Brennen

Explorer
Hey, I'm on #TeamWhip.

Problem is for the whip to be useful you need a build. Or used to in older editions. If you want damage you go with a scorpion whip and rogue sneak. Or if you want to disarm, you do a master disarmer and all. But those require tons of feats or special features just to use a damn weapon.

Whips should grant advantage when used to trip or disarm, and should grant some bonus for grappling.
Sounds to me like a whip-specific feat should/could to be created, that rolls all those things into just the one feat.

Though not sure about the grappling bonus - restrained, maybe? It's weird, because a creature you wrap with a whip can't freely run away from you, as described in the grappled and restrained conditions, but they sure could come at you if you wrapped them at the 10' range. Such a grapple wouldn't use a Strength (Athletics) check to initiate as described in the Grappling rules; more likely just a regular attack roll with the whip, contested only by Dexterity (Acrobatics) (could a case be made to use Strength to avoid initially being wrapped by a whip? I'm thinking 'No'.)

What about escaping the whip-grapple? Does the attacker's Dex come into play to prevent the target from escaping? Does his Strength? Oddly, I say once a whip-grapple is initiated, the attacker is more reliant on Strength to maintain the grapple, either to hang onto the whip if the target is using Strength to escape, or to pull/shake the target and keep them off-balance if they're trying to escape using Dex.

Or, to escape a whip-grapple, the target has to roll against a passive number based on the attacker's attributes of 10+proficiency bonus+(Dex or Str mod).

Anyway, all of that could be spelled out in a whip-wielder feat, rather than adding complexity to the base weapon.
 
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Rune

Once A Fool
I think I'm going to let weapon proficiency with the whip count as athletics proficiency for grapple and shove (prone) attempts. And I might let the finesse quality extend to those checks, as well.
 

Thyrwyn

First Post
I think I'm going to let weapon proficiency with the whip count as athletics proficiency for grapple and shove (prone) attempts. And I might let the finesse quality extend to those checks, as well.
what if you counted it as a tool?...
 

Astrosicebear

First Post
Sounds to me like a whip-specific feat should/could to be created, that rolls all those things into just the one feat.

Though not sure about the grappling bonus - restrained, maybe? It's weird, because a creature you wrap with a whip can't freely run away from you, as described in the grappled and restrained conditions, but they sure could come at you if you wrapped them at the 10' range. Such a grapple wouldn't use a Strength (Athletics) check to initiate as described in the Grappling rules; more likely just a regular attack roll with the whip, contested only by Dexterity (Acrobatics) (could a case be made to use Strength to avoid initially being wrapped by a whip? I'm thinking 'No'.)

What about escaping the whip-grapple? Does the attacker's Dex come into play to prevent the target from escaping? Does his Strength? Oddly, I say once a whip-grapple is initiated, the attacker is more reliant on Strength to maintain the grapple, either to hang onto the whip if the target is using Strength to escape, or to pull/shake the target and keep them off-balance if they're trying to escape using Dex.

Or, to escape a whip-grapple, the target has to roll against a passive number based on the attacker's attributes of 10+proficiency bonus+(Dex or Str mod).

Anyway, all of that could be spelled out in a whip-wielder feat, rather than adding complexity to the base weapon.
This.

And its also the curse of the whip. It can do alot. Now anyone trained to use a whip, can do these things. Just as much as anyone trained in using a sword can use one effectively. Translating everything a whip can do into mechanics is a nightmare of a weapon.


I would say for simplicity sake, make up a new weapon classification called "useful". Anywhere the weapon( in this case whip) could be used to assist the player, whether in disarming, grappling, climbing, juggling, whatever situation arises, it grants the player advantage, if the DM approves of using the weapon in this way.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
what if you counted it as a tool?...
Essentially, yeah. That's how it would work. Just not one that you could pick up proficiency for during downtime (unless you allow weapon proficiencies to be learned this way--which I will, if it ever comes up).
 

Joe Liker

First Post
I take issue with the notion that any weapon must be "optimal" in order to justify its existence. But I think you are underestimating the whip. Reach is quite powerful, and one-handed reach can be incredible in the right hands.

As a one-handed finesse weapon with reach, the whip is completely unique. It's also not an easy weapon to master. There is nothing wrong with expecting a character to expend a feat slot or a class level to take advantage of its very useful properties.
 

Dausuul

Legend
It isn't on par with actual martial weapons nor should it be. If you are trying to kill someone, a sword really is MUCH more effective. It has utility uses such as disarming, swinging over pits and such but as a weapon of war it is a rather poor one as it should be.
Neither should a guy in studded leather with two rapiers be able to take on an equally skilled foe in full plate with a greatsword. Neither should a moderately skilled human warrior with a sword (level 3 or so) be able to take on a grizzly bear in single combat. Neither should someone without much weapons training (e.g., a wizard) be able to throw a dagger effectively in battle. As far as realism goes, these are all absurd. Where weapons and armor are concerned, D&D has been putting Rule of Cool over realism ever since 3E, and in many cases since AD&D.

I'm not saying the whip should do as much damage as a sword, but the whip has enough Rule of Cool cred going for it (thank you, Indiana Jones) that I think it ought to have special uses that make up for its lower damage output.

Whips should grant advantage when used to trip or disarm, and should grant some bonus for grappling.
Nice ideas! Maybe say advantage on trip/disarm, and you can substitute a whip attack roll (which you can make from reach) for an Athletics check to start a grapple?

I would say for simplicity sake, make up a new weapon classification called "useful". Anywhere the weapon( in this case whip) could be used to assist the player, whether in disarming, grappling, climbing, juggling, whatever situation arises, it grants the player advantage, if the DM approves of using the weapon in this way.

Another excellent thought.
 

Derren

Adventurer
Where weapons and armor are concerned, D&D has been putting Rule of Cool over realism ever since 3E, and in many cases since AD&D.

I'm not saying the whip should do as much damage as a sword, but the whip has enough Rule of Cool cred going for it (thank you, Indiana Jones) that I think it ought to have special uses that make up for its lower damage output.
Might I remind you that in 3E a whip was completely useless when the enemy had any kind of armor and also had several other drawbacks? There, "realism" defiantly won over Rule of Cool when it comes to the whip, something I completely agree with. A whip is a tool, not a weapon and should in no way be balanced with swords, axes, clubs and other weapons of war.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
A level or two of fighter is good for any rogue, and that's where I see the whip being most useful:

Fighter 1: fighting style (defense or twf), second wind are both useful; all weapons
Fighter 2: gives action surge, but probably only worth it if you wanted to go on to maneuvers.

But for a whip user, I'd take 2-4 levels of rogue (depending on how keen you are to whip it , whip it good), one of fighter, and then onwards with rogue.
 

Sir Brennen

Explorer
I would say for simplicity sake, make up a new weapon classification called "useful". Anywhere the weapon( in this case whip) could be used to assist the player, whether in disarming, grappling, climbing, juggling, whatever situation arises, it grants the player advantage, if the DM approves of using the weapon in this way.
I still say that you'd need a feat if you mean it provides capital-A "Advantage" - having advantage on Disarm, Grapple, "Trip" (Shove attack to knock prone) attacks mean those are the things you do with the whip all the time, with Advantage. Using the whip to damage a foe would become secondary in that case, as the character gets a massive boost in rolling successfully in a number of other non-trivial attack actions pretty much every time they attack. Which would be fine if they had to invest in a feat to get that.

I mean, a shield is useful in the way you mean for shoving, but I wouldn't give someone advantage just because they have a shield. There's a feat for that (isn't there? I don't have my PHB with me).

Definitely, I'd allow a whip-wielder who's "merely" proficient with a whip be able to make attack rolls to wrap object, like to swing across a pit or grab a key ring on the other side of iron bars. They can also attempt to Disarm and "Trip" with a normal attack roll, but not not with advantage, and perhaps not targets in adjacent squares (i.e., within 5' - the whip needs room to uncoil). Grappling is, again, tricky enough that I'd leave it for a feat.

This is just a quick write-up, but if I wanted a feat for a whip in my game (and with this thread, I'm thinking I might), it would be something like this:

Prerequisite: Proficiency with whip

You gain mastery in using whips, like a raider of a lost tomb. You gain the following benefits:

  • You gain advantage on attacks made with a whip to disarm or knock a target prone (by using the Shove attack action), and also on attempts to wrap the end of the whip around an inanimate objects.
  • You can initiate a grapple using the whip with an normal attack roll contested by the target's Dex (Athletics) check. Once grappled, the target can escape by succeeding on a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check against a target number of 10 + your Proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dex bonus.
  • As a bonus action, you can snap the whip in the air and try to intimidate creature's of animal intelligence (2 to 4) within the whip's reach plus 5'. Make a Charisma (Intimidation) check opposed by the creature's Wisdom check. On a success the creature is Frightened until your next turn.
 
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