By the nature of their propulsion, blowpipes are typically short ranged weapons with an extremely limited damage capacity - a blowpipe dart is rarely more than a needle or splinter and will generally need to be tipped with poison to achieve anything. They tend to appear - apparently independantly of one another - in close terrain such as jungles where ranges are limited anyway and the environment is hostile to other forms of missile weapon. Size of pipe, both in length and calibre, varies from culture to culture but will normally only affect the way in which the dart is packed for firing.
Most blowpipe using cultures seem to use them primarily as a hunting weapon and may or may not possess darts suitable for use against humans so if they are pressed into use for warfare the results of the poisons may be unpredictable.
The only culture for which the blowpipe appears to be primarily a weapon are the Japanese, for whom the fukiya was traditionally amongst the many weapons attributed to the ninja. Like most "facts" about the ninja the role played by the fukiya is almost certain exaggerated, but there remains a significant blowpipe shooting tradition in Japan. Besides darts it is also thought that fukiya may have been used to deliver clouds of inhaleable poison dust at close range, although this seems a particularly hazardous manner by which to deploy a chemical weapon.
Game and Story Use
- For most RPG purposes the blowpipe is a pathetic weapon and stats should reflect this.
- PCs under attack from blowgun users may suffer all manner of wierd effects as they are dosed with poisons designed for other species.
- The blowpipe has plenty of capacity for comedic mishaps in a system that uses fumble rules. Especially if the user is trying to use it to blow toxic dust at people.