As a long time fan of the Castlevania series, I was delighted when the Warren Ellis creation debuted on Netflix in July 2017 – even if it was only four episodes. It’s a retelling of Castlevania III – a prequel to Castlevania I before words like prequel were bandied about. Spoiler: I loved the show. Like I wasn’t always going to, right? Regardless, watching the show reminded me of how much I love whips and always want whips to be awesome. I mean, power-stancing whips in Dark Souls II is awesome, and it can be fantastic at times in Secret of Mana. Indiana Jones uses the whip in a very utilitarian way. However, whips are not actually great weapons for combat. I understand that, but whips are just cool. In 5e, whips are martial weapons, do 1d4 slashing damage, are finesse weapons, and have reach. They are NOT light weapons. This isn’t actually all that bad, honestly. It’s poor damage, but situational utility and some flexibility over character archetypes. Still, it is subject to the D&D golden rule: everything is better when you make sweet magic items out of it. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some cool whips for us in your campaigns – beginning with a modified Vampire Killer.
Weapon (whip), artifact (requires attunement)
Long ago, the queens and kings of the land stopped taking care of their people. The rulers became more interested in attaining power and riches than ensuring the safety of those who served them. As the knights and forces turned inward, it fell to the lesser nobility to protect the land. Monsters began to appear, preying upon the populace as the church looked outward for heretics and the rulers squabbled among themselves. The nobleman Leon Belmont fought against the monsters with the help of his friend and equal Mathias Cronqvist.
After the death of the wife of Mathias, Leon was forced to battle the monster alone. He continued to do so until his wife – Sara Trantoul – was captured by Walter Bernhard, the vampire lord within the castle known as Eternal Night. Leon was granted the whip of alchemy by Rinaldo Gandolfini – the whip’s creator – to secure the return of Leon’s wife. Walter let her go without issue, taunting Leon to fight him within the castle after the whip of alchemy was not up to the task of inflicting harm upon him. Leon returned to Rinaldo with his unconscious wife, seeking a cure for her condition, only to discover bite marks upon her neck. The only known way to his wife was to defeat Walter – according to Rinaldo – something the whip of alchemy was incapable of doing. However, Rinaldo stated the whip of alchemy could be made to combat Walter, if the whip was used to kill Sara and take the curse of vampirism into itself. Sara had no desire to transform into a vampire, and sacrificed herself in order to all the whip of alchemy to transform into the artifact known as Vampire Killer.
With this whip, the Belmont line has fought successfully against vampires and other creatures of the night for centuries – as its potency is not limited to vampires alone. It typically appears as a chain whip, but its appearance has been known to change – depending on the wielder.
Emblems. Vampire Killer may be empowered by placing up to three emblems upon its handle. These emblems are relics of the Belmont family, and might have one been broaches, rings, or other forms of insignia. Once attached the the whip, these emblems increase the power of the whip’s other ability.
As a reaction to failing a saving throw against death, if you have any emblems attached to the whip you may choose one to become cracked and useless, falling off of the whip. If you do so, you automatically succeed the saving throw, instead.
Magic Weapon. Vampire Killer is a magical weapon, and gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls for each emblem it currently possesses. If Vampire Killer has at least one emblem, it also functions as a flame tongue weapon. If it possesses at least two emblems, it also function as a frost brand weapon. If it possesses three emblems, it functions as a holy avenger.
Random Properties. Vampire Killer has the following randomly determined properties:
- 2 minor beneficial properties
- 1 major beneficial property
Alchemy. Vampire Killer gains additional properties as more emblems are added to it. You may choose one of following for each emblem currently in Vampire Killer. Once chosen, the properties remain until an emblem is lost or the light of a full moon shines upon it – at which time the properties may be re-selected. When an emblem is lost, you choose which property is lost.
- You have resistance against necrotic damage.
- You are under the effects of protection from evil and good while you wield Vampire Killer
- The reach of Vampire Killer increases by 5 feet.
- You may re-roll a failed Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) ability check with advantage – as long as the check involves the use of Vampire Killer. Once you have done so, you may not do so again until the next dawn.
- As a bonus action, you may use Vampire Killer as if it were the mage hand spell.
- As an action, you may spin Vampire Killer around you – attacking creatures of your choice within 5 feet. This attack deals your Strength or Dexterity modifier in damage, increasing by an additional 1d6 at 5th level, 11th level, and 17th level. When you take this action, you increase your AC your proficiency bonus against any creature you target as part of this action until the start of your next turn.
Holy Fire. If you are holding Vampire Killer you may cast flame strike as a 5th-level spell slot as an action. The spell slot used increases by one level for each emblem Vampire Killer currently possesses. You can’t use this property again until the next dawn.
Banishing Smite. If you are holding Vampire Killer you may cast banishing smite. You may do so once for each emblem Vampire Killer currently possesses. Once you have done so, you can’t use this property again until the next dawn.
Curse. If the wielder attempts to attune to this whip and is not of the Belmont bloodline they must face challenges posed to them by the ghost of Sara Trantoul. Should they succeed, the wielder unlocks the full power of the whip – though their lives are forfeit upon the completion. Should the wielder fail, the whip claims their life. The whip performs as a normal whip if it is not attuned.
Destroying the Whip. Completing the purpose of the whip sees the peaceful destruction of the artifact. The whip can also be destroyed by submerging it a crucible of the blood of the innocent, and burying both in desecrated ground for one hundred years.
First Traitor’s Whip
Weapon (whip), legendary (requires attunement)
This woven green leather whip was once known as Dair’s Root before the leaving of the Firstborn from Ur-Lassen – the City of the Keepers. It was then Brón, First of Dair, decried the need to leave Ur-Lassen – placing him and his supporters at odds with the Firstborn who wanted to follow the plans of the Keepers. Leaving the rest of his people he sought to remain in Ur-Lassen – forsaking the Keepers who were forcing them to abandon their homes. The Keepers were enraged that the Firstborn would be so bold as to disobey their orders, sending horrific manifestations of their will to visit their wrath upon their children. Brón defended his people with his magic and weapons, saving the lives of those who were placing the blame at his feet – rather than at the feet of their capricious patrons. Brón accepted the appellation of First Traitor stoically, stating only he would continue to protect the Firstborn from their gods – even if they did not want him to do so.
When making an attack in which you could deal your sneak attack damage or casting a cantrip in which the whip is a material component, you may roll a 1d4 and add the result to either your attack or damage roll.
When using a maneuver, divine smite, or dealing damage with a spell of 1st-level or higher that requires you to make a weapon attack, you may roll a 1d6 and add the result to either your attack or damage roll.
As a bonus action, you may cause the whip to glow with radiant energy. Whenever you attack a creature and miss, the creature suffers radiant damage equal to your Charisma, Intelligence, or Wisdom modifier, whichever is highest. This ability lasts for one minute once activated. Once you have used this ability, you must leave the whip in sealed box with five drops of your own blood for one hour in order to use it again.
Weapon (whip), very rare (requires attunement)
These blackened chain whips are fashioned after the sand vipers found in the deserts of Zakhara. These whips are bestowed to the holy slayers of the Grey Fire after they become trusted members of the society.
You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this weapon. This bonus increases to +2 if you wield one of these blackened chain whips in each hand.
When you hit with an attack using this whip, you deal an additional 1d6 acid damage. This damage increases to 1d10 if you are wielding one of these whips in each hand.
Additionally, while you wield this whip whenever you succeed a Dexterity saving throw and would take half damage you may spend your reaction to take no damage instead. If you would already take no damage from succeeding the Dexterity saving throw, you immediately recover hit points equal to your proficiency bonus and recover the same amount again at the beginning of your turn. Once you have used this property, you may not do so again until the next sunset.
Weapon (whip), rare (requires attunement)
Glass strands were produced by the Azer artisans under Lady Tahmil of the Blazing Court to combat the forces of Overseer Qarash. These razor-sharp obsidian whips are not fragile – despite their nature – and can inflict wounds much greater than first perceived.
When you take the attack action, you may choose to have the target of your attacks make a Dexterity saving throw instead of making an attack roll, dealing damage as if you had made a successful attack on a failed saving throw, or half as much on a successful saving throw. The DC for this is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Dexterity bonus.
As a bonus action, you may cause any creature who took damage from the weapon this turn to suffer your Dexterity bonus in slashing damage should they move before the start of your next turn.
Further, attacks made with this weapon ignore resistance to slashing damage, and treat immunity to slashing damage as resistance.
Weapon (whip), uncommon (requires attunement)
These silver whips were used by the church performers of the Calling Heights as part of their high ceremonies and public holidays. Lashing Tongues are fashioned after the Lashing Tongue of Balyx Kai – the holy whip created by the sacrifice of the angel Balyx Kai during the War of Nelkishi’s Denouement.
You gain expertise in Charisma (Performance) for any performance that uses the whip as part of it.
You may also choose to re-roll any Charisma (Performance) ability check made while using the whip as part of the performance, gaining advantage when you do so. Once you have used this party, you may not do so until the light of moon shines upon it for at least one hour.
As a reaction to rolling initiative, you may cast protection from evil and good upon yourself. Once you have used this property you may not do so until the light of the full moon shines upon the whip for at least an hour while the whip is fully submerged in holy water.