One of my play-by-post characters uses a whip enchanted with the Staff spell (requires once-living material, which leather assuredly is). For tactical reasons, the whip he currently uses is only two yards long, so there are no restrictions on attacking closer targets (except range C for close). I'm finding, however, that he very seldom uses the whip as a weapon (Lightning Whip spell is more effective, and he can cast and maintain a 2-yard Lightning Whip at no fatigue cost). Rather, he mainly uses it as a mage's Staff, to extend his touch range.

Longer whips, in addition to requiring a Ready maneuver after each attack or parry, cannot attack a target at range more than two yards shorter than the whip length. I understand this as a limitation for use of the whip as a weapon, since the popper is the part that can injure an opponent, and it's almost impossible, in real life, to hit a close target hard enough to do injury with the popper of a seven-yard whip. However, in order to deliver a Regular spell by touch, touching the target with any part of the whip (as with a common wood or bone Staff) ought to transfer the magic. Merely touching the target with some part of the whip ought not to be difficult, even if there are multiple yards of additional length extending past the target.

Mechanically, how would I play out "touching" a target at one or two yards with a seven yard whip?


2 Answers 2


I would recommend giving the player the option of taking a READY maneuver to "choke up" on the whip till it is the proper length for their need. Or taking a penalty to hit the target of -1 per yard below the whips normal effective reach. The former would, of course, require a second READY maneuver to reset back to the normal length and grip. The latter would give a 7 yard whip a -3 at 2 yards and a -4 at 1 yard (You could increase that if you deem it necessary).

Alternatively, you could require that they ENTANGLE the target per the Whip rules.

As for hitting, they could easily declare they want to touch a target and not damage it. But I agree that the whip could be more readily captured by an opponent under these circumstances.

And as noted above, you can decide whether you want to allow it at all. You could say that the nature of a whip strike is too quick and ephemeral to allow for the transmission of the spell effects. A touch must be solid, not brushing like a whip.

I wouldn't because I agree it is a unique and clever idea and I wouldn't penalize the player for it. However, you mention the caster rarely uses the whip in combat, using a spell instead. I would consider requirng the character to maintain the WHIP skill through use or regular practice, or begin penalizing them for not using the actual whip. The spell makes it clear it is not the same as a real whip so that skill will atrophy.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you take the penalty for attacking a target that's too close, that could plausibly be bought down with a Technique. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 10:56

It's the GM's call as to whether a leather whip can qualify in his own world-setting, of course, as GMs are free to make any such rulings, or even change rules, especially in terms of details of how magic works.

Whips with the Staff spell is a clever and interesting, though of course it could be considered a boost some GMs might not want to work. A 2-yard whip of course isn't any longer than most wood staves.

For the mechanics of touching someone closer than minimum striking reach with a longer whip, I don't know of an official rule, but a house rule would be easy to add. I'd probably talk to someone who actually has some skill with a real whip to get a detailed opinion, but it seems to me that you could just define a new attack which does no damage or effects other than to touch. I might also allow an option to Ready the whip folded, so as to just hit people at shorter range without whipping them with it, which would also do no damage, but also not be unbalanced.

It also occurs to me that the target (or other adjacent people) would probably have a slight bonus to grab or attack such a whip used in either of these ways, compared to the difficulty of targeting a whip used to strike at full reach.

So two new short-range touch attack options for a long whip:

  • Normal grip, reach 1-2, no damage/touch only, unreadies whip, +2 for targets to grab whip.

  • Folded grip, reach 1-2, no damage/touch only, doesn't unready, +2 for targets to grab whip.

  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, this and the other answer are VERY GOOD answers to this question, very appropriate for GURPS. This site is sometimes very unwelcoming of questions without single objective answers, but I don't think there exists an official rule for this, and this is what good experienced GURPS GMs (like myself, playing since it came out circa 1986) do. Maybe all GURPS questions should be forwarded to the SJGames.com GURPS forums, where such questions and answers roam free and are appreciated? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dronz
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 5:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or perhaps we could encourage some folks from the forums at SJGames to monitor here for GURPS questions. There are only a dozen or so a year, after all; it seems there are more FATE players/GMs here than for GURPS. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 11:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon: A few of the SJGames forums regulars do have accounts here. I just missed this one. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 10:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon: I've now subscribed to the GURPS 4e feed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 11:03

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