Urumi - The Multi-Bladed Whip Sword of India

Imagine a flexible metal whip five feet long with razor-sharp edges. Attach five or six of these to a sword hilt. Now picture a wiry, agile opponent coming at you with one in each hand, twirling and gyrating to keep both flurries of blades in constant motion. How do you parry a berserk weed-whacker?

The urumi is a nearly forgotten weapon of India, perhaps the most difficult weapon to wield. In Kalaripayattu, an ancient martial arts discipline of southern India, students learned the use of the urumi last, only after mastering a single-bladed whip-sword. Following and controlling the natural momentum of the blades without injuring oneself requires agile, dance-like movements that take several years to master.

In RPG terms I think the high learning curve should limit this weapon to upper-level characters only, and the agility requirement dictates a severe armor restriction. When not in use the urumi is worn wrapped around the waist like a belt, with the hilt in a ready position. I imagine the hilt is able to clip onto the blade in some way to keep it coiled in place. The weapon can be wielded singly or one in each hand.

Should a six-bladed urumi inflict 6d8 damage? These are thin, lightweight blades whose individual momentum would be less than that of a sword. I also think the weapon's chaotic, whirlwind nature calls for a crazier formula. I suggest rolling d6 to determine how many blades actually strike, then roll that many d6. This gives a wildly variable damage range of 1-36 per opponent, with an average of 12. The weapon's thrashing motion and ability to bend around shields make dodging more difficult, giving it a non-magical attack bonus of +1.

The urumi also has defensive benefits. Because the blades constantly swing around the user, actively wielding this weapon improves the user's AC by +2, even against ranged weapons, which it helps deflect. Active wielding also nullifies opponent bonuses for flanking and back attacks.

Drawback: when used against an opponent wielding a flail, whip, or another urumi, there is a 10% chance per melee round that the weapons will become entangled, making them both useless for one round.

  • Number of opponents per attack: 3
  • Damage: roll d6 then roll that many d6
  • Non-magical to-hit bonus: +1
  • AC bonus while actively wielded: +2
  • Nullifies opponent bonuses for flanking and back attacks
  • Cost: double the cost of 6 longswords