I'm running a whip-wielding ranger/rogue, and I'm wondering if it's possible to poison a whip, both from a rules standpoint and as a practical matter.

Rules-wise, there's this from the DMG:

Injury. A creature that takes slashing or piercing damage from a weapon or piece of ammunition coated with injury poison is exposed to its effects.

since a whip deals slashing damage, it suggests that it's at least legal. The PHB seems to back this up:

Poison, Basic. You can use the poison in this vial to coat one slashing or piercing weapon or up to three pieces o f ammunition. Applying the poison takes an action...

Am I missing anything that specifies bladed or metal weapons? Then, assuming it's legal, the other question is does it make sense? I'm no expert on whips, although at our local Renaissance Faire there's a guy who dips his chainmail bullwhip in gas and lights it on fire, which suggests a whip might soak up a liquid, like a poison.

Is there anyone out there who can make a practical case for or against poisoning a whip?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Everyone: don't answer in the comments (including partial or speculative answers). If you have an answer, leave it as one. Comments are for requesting clarification or suggesting improvements to the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Feb 22, 2020 at 10:26

3 Answers 3


Yes, this works according to the rules. Whether it "makes sense" is up to you.

You've already quoted the relevant parts of the rules.

Poison, Basic. You can use this vial to coat one slashing or piercing weapon... PHB, page 153

A whip is a slashing weapon. There's nothing to say that it only applies to bladed or metal weapons.

As for whether it makes sense, that's entirely up to you. Remember that D&D isn't a simulation for real life. What works in a tabletop RPG may not work in real life and what works in real life may not work in a tabletop RPG.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see any reason it couldn't make sense. Whips can easily break the skin, and if the surface of the whip is covered in poison that's a reasonable delivery mechanism to get the poison into the target. People can quibble about amounts of poison delivered this way, but those same arguments really apply to most, if not all, poison-covered weapons as well. The whip doesn't need to soak up poison any more than a steel sword would need to. \$\endgroup\$
    – Upper_Case
    Feb 20, 2020 at 22:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Upper_Case Parts of a whip can travel faster than the speed of sound (that's what produces the crack). That should indeed be enough in order to deliver poison into a soft body. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2020 at 9:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Normal leather whips can move fast enough to sever smaller limbs. I've even watched barbed whips being used that could sever larger limbs, though that requires some serious skill to achieve. Applying poison is easily feasible, and could actually work better than from a sword. \$\endgroup\$
    – Starshine
    Feb 21, 2020 at 17:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Eh, forget whips that are designed to hurt people. Limbs can be severed from tug-o-war. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nelson
    Feb 23, 2020 at 1:32

I just want to add some real world experience as a whip wielder in real life. One of the things we do for tricks is to dip the "popper", that's the cutting part of the whip, in ink. We do this to color our targets. One dose will last 5 or so hits, and gets into the target.

I can't speak to how real poison works, but as far as to whether or not a whip can be used to get poison into a wound, it absolutely could.


Does it work according to the rules? Yes.

Purple Monkey answered this completely, but we like answers to be self contained. Yes, the rules allow poison on slashing weapons and whips are slashing weapons. Therefore, RAW, whips can be poisoned for full effect.

Does it make sense in the real world? No.

Poisoned weapons in the real world do not work anything like the way they work in D&D or most RPGs. This question has several answers that go into detail: Realism of Poisoned Weapons

The short version is that while poisoned weapons have seen use in the real world most of them are far too slow to be useful during melee combat the way they are often used in D&D. Instead, they tended to make sure the target (whether an enemy or prey animal) died eventually. It also tended to be much harder to obtain and use than RPGs portray.

Of course, the flip side is that poisoning food and drink comes up far less often in most D&D situations than you saw in the real world were that did work quite well.

In short, the way D&D portrays poisons in general already does not make a lot of sense in the real world.

Does it make sense within the D&D world? Probably.

As mentioned, the way D&D handles poisons does not make sense within the real world. However, if you accept that poisons work the way they do in the D&D fiction then poisoning a whip makes as much sense as poisoning a sword. Whips can break skin and some poisons can be absorbed through the skin so even breaking skin is not necessarily a strict requirement.


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