[RPG] Why are whips so restricted


The bard has always been a bit of an unusual class. One thing, though, that I've really enjoyed about the bard is that they get Exotic Weapon Proficiency (whip) for free.

However, after playing a bit in Pathfinder, I'm continually bewildered by how restrictive the whip is:

A whip deals no damage to any creature with an armor bonus of +1 or
higher or a natural armor bonus of +3 or higher. The whip is treated
as a melee weapon with 15-foot reach, though you don't threaten the
area into which you can make an attack. In addition, unlike most other
weapons with reach, you can use it against foes anywhere within your
reach (including adjacent foes).

The rules are similar in D&D 3.5 / 3, if I recall correctly.

I understand that it is more of a strategic weapon, but in Pathfinder, they've made the whip a bit more useful in the sense that there are feats like Whip Mastery (No longer provoke attacks of opportunity, deal lethal damage, remove armor restriction) and Improved Whip Mastery (Threaten natural reach + 5), but it still seems extremely restrictive (considering any other class would have had to have to be Proficient with the whip, and have Weapon Focus (whip)).

In summary: effectively using the whip requires numerous feats, whips don't threaten, don't deal much damage (or any lethal damage), and provoke attacks of opportunity.

Why is the whip so restricted?


Best Answer

To quote the 3.5 rulebook:

Because a whip can wrap around an enemy's leg or other limb, you can make a trip attack with it. If you are tripped during your own trip attempt, you can drop the whip to avoid being tripped.

When using a whip, you get a +2 bonus on opposed attack rolls made to disarm an opponent (including the roll to keep from being disarmed if the attack fails).

A 15 foot flank trip attack, where the bad-guy getting up provokes an attack of opportunity from the main fighter is incredibly powerful, even if you do no "damage".

These same rules are in Pathfinder (pgs 143-145). Whips are listed as disarm, nonlethal, trip weapons on the table on page on 143, then from 144-145:

Disarm: When you use a disarm weapon, you get a +2 bonus on Combat Maneuver Checks to disarm an enemy.

Nonlethal: These weapons deal nonlethal damage (see Chapter 8).

Trip: You can use a trip weapon to make trip attacks. If you are tripped during your own trip attempt, you can drop the weapon to avoid being tripped.

Again ... that trip attack is invaluable. The only "more broken" weapon is the spiked chain in 3.5, which does threaten the 10' reach and allows a trip attack, which means you get a free trip attack on bad-guy again when he tries to get up, along with your normal attacks once you trip him (one of my favorite characters ever was a Dwarf Fighter specializing in a spiked chain).