Maybe you have been looking through some homebrews from people about monks, or you have read some of the official player’s handbooks and stumbled across the Yklwa. In this Yklwa 5e guide, I am going to tell you a little more about this strange and not that often used weapon.
There is not a lot of lore on the Yklwa in 5e – or any other edition – and not a lot of information is given in official rulebooks or stories from Wizards of the Coast. If you are familiar with my guides, you know that I mainly write from the Dungeon Master’s perspective.
This is mainly because I mainly play as a Dungeon Master, and secondly, because I have to counter lots of shenanigans that players throw at me. I kind of know what goes and whatnot, and how to make the life of both a player and a DM hard.
In this Guide, I am going to tell you a little more about the lore of the weapon, how to use it, and answer some frequently asked questions about them.
Ykl..what? The lore and stats behind the Yklwa in Dungeons and Dragons
So your first question as a Dungeon Master likely is, if you are planning to introduce this weapon, how to pronounce it. The pronunciation is YICK – uhl – wah. The more throat you use, the better. The legend goes that the sound is derived from what you hear when you pull the Yklwa out of the heart of a dinosaur.
So what exactly is the Yklwa? It is a very simple but effective melee weapon that the Chultan warriors use. It is one of their traditional weapons. It can also be used as a throwing weapon, but it isn’t very effective.
The design of the yklwa is very simple. It has a wooden shaft of about 3 feet long and has a stone or steel blade that is between 12 and 18 inches long. The weapon weighs 2 lbs. This means your average yklwa is about 4 feet long, and a good 40% of that is the blade-like ending.
The weapons are mainly used as some kind of short thrusting spear in melee combat. Throwing it is possible, however it does not have the required balance to make an effective long-range throw, which is why its range is only about 30 feet far. It does deal some more damage than a normal short spear if it hits in this range that is about half as long as the short spear.
Here’s everything you need to know about Spears in DnD 5e.
While the Yklwas can be held with both hands, the tabaxi tribe fighters use them together with a large hlang shield.
The price you should set this weapon at is 1 gold piece. A fair price when compared to the 15th century DR Port Nyanzaru economy, as the merchant prince named Akene-afe drove up the price when he controlled the sale in the yklwa in the port.
Damage wise the weapon is pretty basic, though in the right hands it should not be underestimated. It has 1d8 piercing damage, which is crazy for a weapon you can throw and use with one hand. More on this later!
Why you should use a Yklwa as a player or dungeon master in a campaign
Since you are reading this guide, I am pretty sure you are at least somewhat interested in using this weapon, or you want to know how to use it as well as possible. If you are looking for some reasons to convince yourself or a friend to use this unique weapon, you have come to the right place.
It is a simple weapon
If you want to blow the mind of your Dungeon Master or just annoy him if he has a simple weapons-only clause at the start of the game, the Yklwa is sure to achieve that goal. I, and almost every other DnD player I know, have no clue why exactly the designers choose to put this in the simple weapon category.
If you are not sure why this is so strange, allow me to explain. It is a throwable single-handed weapon that has a piercing damage output of 1d8. That damage output is insanely high. If you look at the weapon table, you will see that this ties it with weapons like the great club. The great club, however, is a weapon you can only wield with one hand.
With the Yklwa you can wield a shield and thus up your AC to make you more survivable. If you look at the game mechanics, you will notice that the weapon is as good as equivalent to a weapon like the Morningstar. However, you have the option to throw it, while you can´t do that with the Morningstar which is considered to be a martial weapon.
It is a unique weapon
Another reason I love the Yklwa is that it is rarely used by anyone. Everyone knows about the sword, the warhammer, and so on. This weapon is not used that often and as I explained already, has some very cool mechanics that can give you the change of pace you are looking for. Spears in general see very little use from what I see in my Dungeon and Dragons campaigns, so going for a niche short spear is bound to be something that not a lot of DM´s know lots about. This helps you to surprise your DM, which is always fun if you are a player.
The yklwa is kind of broken
Depending on how you ask, the yklwa is either kind of good or banned for life from DnD campaigns. The main problem with the balance of the yklwa is that it is a simple weapon. The only other simple weapons with damage output that are equal to this short spear are two-handed large and heavy weapons.
Next, is the fact that you can throw it, too. Okay, I admit the range of the weapon is just plain horrible. It has the second-worst range of any throwing weapon in D&D 5th edition from all the weapons I have seen. However, it deals the most damage compared to any other one-handed weapon you can throw in D&D. That is quite crazy for a weapon that is mainly used and intended for melee combat.
If Dungeons and Dragons – and Wizards of the Coast as a whole – was consistent, this would have 100% been a Martial weapon. My research shows, and my opinion is, that there isn’t a one-handed simple weapon that has just as much damage as the yklwa and just as much versatility. This makes it simply the best simple weapon in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition.
However, it isn’t overpowered in my opinion. Well, in most cases anyway. The reason for this is that the average damage to the weapon is only one more than the second next best simple weapon. So, this makes me think that people who just outright ban this weapon are a little too strict. There aren’t many players that are going to throw away the classics to use a 4 feet long spear.
Other unique weapons like the Yklwa in 5e DnD
Since you are reading a guide on a weapon like the Yklwa, I am going to take a guess and say you are pretty interested in unique and not often used weapons. Here is a couple that I have seen used, and I think they should get some more attention.
One thing you have to keep in mind, the reason why some of these weapons are almost never used in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign is that either they are pretty bad or the niche is very small. If you are a dungeon master and you want to introduce these weapons into your game, a good way would be to either slightly boost their damage or give them some magical properties.
I really love the whip. It is quite an impractical weapon to use to actually kill monsters. It only has a 1d4 slashing damage output, but there are some fun uses to it. It is the only one-handed weapon that has reach. If you want to keep your enemies at a distance, a whip is a good weapon for that. If you want to slightly buff the whip, you can give them a chance to disarm the opponent.
The trident is another weapon that isn’t used very often. The reason is simple, it does not do anything better than any of its competitors. It does a decent amount of damage with a 1d6 damage output. You can throw it for a pretty decent distance of 20/60 feet. The problem as you see is, this is all just plain average.
I’d go even further, it is just a bad version of a spear. You could give it a small extra magical bonus to make it more interesting. For example, you can give it a chance to engulf your opponent in a stream of water that could make them more tired, due to a lack of breath.
Flail – the flail is a pretty cool weapon that has some use, but is still underutilized in my opinion. It is a one-handed weapon that can be used by medium characters – or larger ones – to deal extra damage if they use it two-handed. The weapon is quite heavy and expensive and is not all that much better if you are e.g. a barbarian or a fighter than your other options. I do think it should have more play, as the damage really isn’t all that bad.
Frequently asked questions about the Yklwa in DnD
Question: What is the Yklwa of Warning?
Answer: The Yklwa of Warning is a magical item that can be found in the Tomb of Annihilation. It has the ability to warn you of danger. If you have it on your person, it has the power to give you the advantage whenever you have to roll for initiative. It also has the power to make you and any of your companions in a range of 30 feet immune to surprise.
The rest of the stats are equal to the regular Yklwa. It is a pretty cool weapon, which you can read more about in the DMG book on page 213.
Question: Does the Yklwa have the finesse ability?
Answer: The Yklwa is a simple melee weapon, without any other properties like martial. While you can throw it, it is primarily a melee weapon. It does not have the finesse ability or any other kind of property. This means since it is a melee weapon, the default ability that it uses is the strongest skill.
A lot of dungeon masters I know do a little change in the abilities of this weapon, and they make it a martial weapon with the finesse ability. This fixes a lot of issues with the weapon but can make it too powerful for some builts, so you might want to bring down the damage to 1d6 +1 or just 1d6.
Question: Can you throw the Yklwa and if so how far?
Answer: While this is primarily a melee weapon, it can also be used as a one-handed throwing weapon. The main question is, is it any good? In my opinion, there are a ton of better-throwing weapons around. The main goal of a throwing weapon – at least in my opinion – is damaging your enemy at a long-range where they can not hit you, so you can wear them down by the time they get close.
While the throwing damage is very strong, a 1d8, which is the best of any one-handed throwing weapon, the range is just pathetic. A range of only 30 feet is not enough to make sure your enemies are seriously damaged by the time they get to you.
Conclusion: An Awesome Weapon that Deserves Some More Attention
The Yklwa is one of the best, if not the best, simple weapons in Dungeons and Dragons. Yet, it does not seem to get a lot of play. Maybe that is because not a lot of people know of the weapon, or have not seen the usefulness of it.
I would say, try and give it a chance. Not only does it give a very nice 1d8 damage output that you can always rely on. If that is not enough, it has the best throwing damage of any simple weapon that you can wield with one hand.
It isn’t all good news for the Yklwa. While its melee damage is impressive and even more so in the beginning of a game, the weapon tends to fall off after a while and is surpassed by more often used weapons that are geared to specific builts. If you are planning on throwing it, you won’t get very far, literally. The range of the weapon is only 30 feet so you will only have a few niche situations where you can use it to its full potential.