Rope of climbing, leveled

August 24th, 2011 by paul
This entry is part 4 of 13 in the series wondrous items, leveled

Rope of climbing of strangulation
The first time you try to use this rope after it levels up, it will leap for your throat and try to strangle you. (It has your HP and defenses, and makes a Grab attack vs. Reflex, using the attack bonus of your best at-will attack. At the beginning of each turn that you are Grabbed, you take damage equal to your surge value. If you avoid or escape the grab, or if the rope is Bloodied, it will coil submissively and, from then on, obey your commands.

My old houserules for leveling magic items mean that every piece of magical treasure has the potential to gain power in ways that the players can't predict. Furthermore, WOTC recently invented the concept of the "rare magic item," but haven't given us lots of examples.

While some items may get mechanically better (for instance, a +1 sword becomes a +2 sword), it's more challenging to improve items that don't have numeric bonuses. I thought I'd go through the Wondrous Items in the 4e Player's Handbook and give examples of how each could gain powers that reflect their history.

Once you command the rope, you can order it to strangle people (using your AC, HP, attack bonus, and doing damage equal to your surge value). Under your command, it can only attack people against whom it has combat advantage.

You can repair all HP damage to the rope during an extended rest.

This ancient rope dates from the First Age, a time when the makers of magic items were malicious pranksters and every magical trinket had the potential to be an inescapable deathtrap. Thankfully, few ropes of strangulation have survived to the modern age.

Cam the Cat's rope of climbing
This rope can lengthen or retract at your will. As a minor action, you can cause it to lengthen or retract at up to 6 squares per turn. This can raise or lower someone holding the end of the rope. It may get as short as 1 foot long or as long as 1 mile. It may also be told to extend or retract to a certain length, either instantly or at any time up to one day in the future. (Example: "Rope! Extend 100 feet so we can climb down the tower, then retract after we all climb down. After one hour, extend 100 feet again so we can climb back up.")

This rope of climbing was used for years by famous burgler Cam the Cat. It was finally used as Cam's noose: it was told to retract after an hour so he'd have plenty of time to think about his crimes before it strangled him.

Cunning Rope of Climbing
Besides acting as a rope of climbing, this rope can follow complex orders as if it had an Intelligence of 10. It can travel unattended, wriggling like a snake at a movement rate of 5; pick up and hold items, using either of its ends as a hand; and act independently, using basic problem-solving skills. It has blindsense 3, and the HP and defenses of its owner. It can communicate by twisting itself into cursive script.

This is a pretty useful item, guys. If it had a basic attack, like the Rope of Climbing of Strangulation does, I'd be willing to play it as a PC.

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5 Responses to “Rope of climbing, leveled”

  1. Laura says:

    My feeling is the cunning rope would end up getting a sort of basic attack after enough play. Perhaps the rope is a pacifist, but what would it do if threatened? Try to trip the person? Try to bind them? Can it love? If so, would it become more aggressive if someone it loved were threatened? Can it love only other ropes? What happens if it’s cut? Does it die? Become two smaller cunning ropes each with an INT of 5?

  2. paul says:

    “Can it love?” should be one of the standard lines in a magic item’s text block, along with stuff like level and price.

  3. Johnny_Vegas says:

    I like how this article triggered climbing gear banner ads to show up.

  4. Have you been reading the Amber books recently? One of the characters has a rope that’s quite similar to the first and last of these.

    Also:

    Rope of Climbing of Unraveling

    The first time you attempt to use this rope after it levels up, it will begin to fall apart in your hands once you are halfway up. However, if you succeed in a strength check to hold it together, it will reform, and can henceforth split into 2d6 Ropes of Climbing, which may reform at any time. However, these split ropes level up on their own.

  5. paul says:

    I haven’t read the Amber books, but I did read Zelazny’s Dilvish the Damned recently, which is chock full of interesting magic items. Amber’s on my to-read list. Maybe I’ll promote it.

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