Skill Stunts And Epic Skill Stunts XI – Use Rope/Cable/Chain/Wires/Etc

Twine and Rope (thicker twine) aren’t quite up there with fire or language, and probably not with agriculture or the domestication of animals, but they’re definitely up there with the hammer, spear, wheel, pottery, and writing. Twine brought nets and snares, bolos and sledges, bound rafts and supplies together, aided in both climbing and sliding down, pulled in harpooned fish and anchored shelters. It held on bandages and spearheads, captured and controlled beasts, secured children and equipment, strengthened the helves of axes and tied thorns into protective walls. Run through pulleys it multiplied strength and simply tied it allowed men to combine their strength and that of beasts as well. How many other Neolithic products have persisted so unchanged? The coil of hempen rope in my garage would be familiar to the hand of a tribesmen from twenty to thirty thousand years ago – although to him a coil so long, so fine, and so consistent would be a great treasure representing many hours of hard labor.

The trouble is that “use rope” is a poor fit with the games other skills. Many, MANY, other skills use rope, just as many other skills use hammers – but there is no “use hammer” skill. (That might be a reasonable way to build a skill system, but it would place a huge burden on the game master to adjudicate things). Even worse, the rules only provide a few uses for the skill, and almost all of those fit under other skills as well or better.

Get a grappling hook lodged? Isn’t this a job for Climbing? Tie a knot? Isn’t this a basic part of Climbing or Profession (Sailor) or a lot of other things? Make a traverse or simple rope bridge to help cross a river? Survival or Profession (Explorer) – or simply announcing that you’re using some rope and talking the game master into giving you a bonus for circumstances (or perhaps for a masterwork rope). Make a trap? Craft (Trap) or Survival again. Tie down cargo? Profession (Teamster) (and when was the last time your player characters worried about their cargo shifting anyway? That’s what Bags Of Holding are for). Tie a knot one-handed? Isn’t that just a circumstance penalty? Use ropes and leashes to help control an animal? Handle Animal. Tie logs together to make a raft? Probably Survival, but who cares? Kids do that successfully all the time with no skill. Sure, the Kon-Tiki needed to hold together for months – but has that EVER come up in your game?

Worse, pretty much all of these are simple tasks that ordinary folk – you know, people with no big bonuses and maybe a +1 from being a girl or boy scout as a kid or a little practice – can do with a pretty good chance of success even if they don’t really take their time. That means that we’re basically talking DC 5 to DC 15. After all, a skill point represents a year or so of casual training or several months of really intensive study on a topic.

Even worse than that… most of those tasks can be done without bothering with rope at all, either with cheap magic (can’t an Unseen Servant set that grappling hook for you? ) or just by not worrying about getting that +2 bonus from the traverse on whatever roll the game master calls for to cross the river. Making a roll to see if you get a small bonus on another roll just holds up the game. Even the listed Epic Level Uses are pointless; so you can animate a rope at DC 60. Doesn’t your epic-level character have something better to do with his or her time than emulate a first level spell?

About the only thing unique to Use Rope even in normal use is splicing it and binding prisoners. How often has splicing rope come up? And even if it did… wouldn’t a cantrip do it better? As for binding prisoners… that’s basically an opposed Escape Artist check. After all, if you know how to escape ropes, you can probably figure out how to keep other people from doing so.

I understand the appeal – I used a LOT of rope while camping, or building tree houses, or during a lot of other activities as a kid and rope is phenomenally useful stuff – but we’re talking about characters who can wrestle dragons, learn to walk on clouds with raw skill, and scale thousand foot greased cliffs in a hurricane if they don’t just teleport in the first place.

It’s a lot like having a “Use Fire” skill. Fire is IMMENSELY useful. Knowing how to handle it, what generates poisonous fumes when burned, how to put it out, how to make fiery weapons, how to smelt metal, how to melt sand into glass, how to perform fractional distillation… it has a myriad uses. The trouble is that it’s far TOO basic to far too many other skills. To handle “Use Fire” properly… it needs to be a part of a skill system built around skills like “Use Hammer”, “Use Stone”, “Use Wood”, “Use Metal”, “Use Air”, “Use Mechanical Advantage” – and yes, “Use Rope” or perhaps “Use Fiber”. That would be pretty interesting – but using it in play would require a table full of engineers and a shelf full of reference books to figure out how to use your characters skills effectively. While I tend to run things that way, and have “figuring out how things work” be an important item in my campaigns, I must admit that it’s an extremely specialized taste.

So, in Eclipse, there are three major approaches to “use rope”.

  1. Take Specific Knowledge / Knots (1 SP) and a +3 Skill Specialty in Using Rope (1 SP). That’s the equivalent of spending six months or so in an intensive study of knots and rope, will probably cover everything mundane that you want to do with rope, and will give you a +3 bonus on rolls that would be aided by your use of rope without having to make separate skill rolls. Quick, simple, and cheap.
  2. Take 2d6 Mana and Rite Of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use with Rope Magic (8 CP) and put some skill points in (Rope) Rune Magic Mastery and Casting. Go ahead. Animate ropes, perform a rope trick, summon a rope golem, entangle enemies, bind spirits, catch the winds in knots, and make creatures and objects dance on your puppet strings. The game master will want to keep a careful eye on this sort of thing though to keep it down to things that rope is actually thematic for though. “(Implement) Magic” should not be an excuse to do anything at all as long as your description involves said implement somehow, just as “Frog Magic” is not an excuse for “Exploding Fireball Frogs!” and “Frogs Of Healing” – and even the “Intercontinental Ballistic Leaping Passenger Frog” (standing in for a party teleport) would be quite a stretch. This is a fairly easy way to represent skills like “Use Fire” and such though.
  3. Go ahead and take “Use Rope” and rely on Stunts and Epic Stunts. Sure, “Use Rope” vanished from Pathfinder, and the Rules Compendium wasn’t big on it – but if you’re looking at this option you’re looking at supernatural effects, not at the enormous, if uninspiring, list of practical uses for rope. This is a fairly powerful option, simply because rope – being another truly ancient tool – has as many mythological applications as the hammer, spear, or sword.

Sample Stunts For “Use Rope”:

  • DC 10 (normally no stunt required):
    • Apply an effective Bandage, Sling, or Tourniquet.
    • Make snowshoes or simple repairs on clothing and improvise other basic items of apparel.
    • Make a firebow (possibly using some bits from extra rope for tinder).
    • Put together simple baskets and carry-sacks, secure food out of the reach of animals, carry stuff conveniently (designate up to (Dexterity) items which can be accessed as a free action), increase your effective Strength score for encumbrance purposes by +2.
    • Secure things – cargo for transport, loose rocks against an avalanche, trees so that they fall the right way, safety lines for people, items and shelters against winds and storms, and so on.
    • Set up a rope for climbing, slide down a rope quickly but without hurting yourself (rope burns are possible if it’s long, but d20 characters shrug off being hit with battle axes, so who cares?), affix a rope securely enough to lift something, secure yourself for sleeping in a tree.
    • Set up a trip/alarm line, create a visual fence (lines set up with things that move and flutter in the wind, effective at confining the more skittish herd animals), create a crude deadfall.
    • Tie basic knots, make minor repairs, reinforce a grip or haft, assemble a crude raft or bundle (just don’t expect it to hold together against major impacts or for too long).
  • DC 15 (May or may not require a stunt):
    • Bind prisoners (gaining a +10 on any opposed check), Effectively leash and collar an animal or slave, perform a competent hanging, rig an animal harness (that won’t strangle the animal or team), hobble a horse or other creature, apply compression torture or mutilation.
    • Make a snare for small animals, assemble a fish trap, or set up a fishing line, properly hang an animal to drain the blood, set up a drying rack.
    • Make crude rope-and-weight weapons, such as bolas, basic flails, or nunchaku, use a piece of rope as a Sap (At DC 75 (and 2 mana on a Stunt), you may use a piece of rope as if it was Power Word: Stun).
    • Put together a simple shelter, effective thorn or brushwood barricade, crude boat, traverse, or rope bridge.
    • Rig and use climbing apparatus – rope ladders, rappelling gear, tie a rope so that you can undo it from any point with a few simply twists and pulls. Use a grappling hook properly, climb a rope at full speed (probably a Stunt).
    • Set up a block and tackle, tension lever (a taut length of rope secured on the ends which can apply great force through a sideways pull at the center), or other strength-multiplying system.
    • Tie extremely complex knots, splice rope, or conceal tiny items in rope, make rope, care for rope, put away up to 50′ of rope as a move action, restoring it to a neat coil along the way.
    • Weave a hammock, net, or fish trap or make crude cloth.
  • DC 20:
    • Knot Of Winds: A rope master may bind the winds. Each knot may be untied to produce a Gust Of Wind effect (albeit out to 120′ feet) or to alter the current wind conditions for one hour per level by one step, to a maximum of Severe Wind and a minimum of none. A rope master may maintain no more than (Wis Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) such knots at any one time.
    • Spiders Weave: You may accomplish up to (level) hours worth of ropework by simply tossing some rope out. You may thus create a pulley system to pull things up cliffs, erect an instant climbing rope, set up a fine rope bridge, stabilize some loose rock, create a rope ladder, weave a net or create snares and swinging-log traps, make hammocks, get a derelict ship rigged to sail, tie doors shut, set up a safety net under a falling creature, set up triplines and alarms, rig up a cutting or pop-up line trap, rig up a fence, or harness a group of horses. You may reclaim your rope and store it away when you are finished with it with a quick tug on one end.
    • Wield Rope: You may use a piece of rope as it it was a Garrote, Lasso, Whip (Any), Scourge (Any), or Flail (Any, including Scarves and Nunchaku). All options are treated as Simple Weapons for you and you may switch between them as needed (this does not count as an action). At DC 30 your options include the Bolas, Rope Guantlet, Double-Chained Kama, Kusarigama, and Spiked Chain. At DC 40 your options include the Aklys, Net, Flying Blade, and “Kobold Tail Attachments”. At +10 DC you can give your rope a +1 Enhancement Bonus (as well as +2 Hardness, +10 HP, and +2 Break DC). At +20 DC the bonus increases to +(Level / 4), multiplying the bonuses to Hardness, HP, and Break DC similarly. At +30 DC you may add special weapon properties in place of some of the Enhancement Bonus “plusses”. At +40 DC the Enhancement Bonus increases to (Level / 2). For +10 DC you may give your “weapon” an extra five feet of reach whenever you need it. Once activated, this ability remains in effect for one hour.
  • DC 25:
    • Ensnare: You may attempt to catch a target within short range, using your rope as if it was a lasso or net, although your target is allowed a Reflex save. At it’s base, this renders them Entangled, prevents winged flight, and allows the user to pull on them (or, for that matter, climb up on them). +5 DC per size category above Large. At +20 DC this has medium range, at +20 DC this Binds or “Pins” the target instead, At DC 75 you may imprison Outsiders who fail to save in a complex knot, equivalent to an Iron Flask – although you may only maintain (Cha Mod, 1 Minimum) such knots at any one time. Note that it is possible to snatch things out of people’s hands or steal them with this ability.
    • Harden Rope: You may cause a rope to harden until you handle it once more. It becomes as durable as an inch-thick piece of Oak. At DC 30 it is as durable as Stone, at DC 40 Bronze, at DC 50 Iron, at DC 60 Mithril, at DC 75 Adamantine, and at DC 100 it has Hardness 30 and 50 HP. If this is used in conjunction with Wield Rope you gain a +4 bonus to Damage on a successful hit.
    • Rope Care: Your personal ropes function as if they were of higher quality, moving one level up the chart below (two steps at DC 30, three at DC 60, but never beyond “Darkleaf”. All ropes beyond basic Hemp ropes are considered to be masterwork tools with respect to Rope Use). This effect remains active for twenty-four hours.
      • Hemp (50 Ft, 2 HP, Break DC 23, 1 GP, 10 Lb),
      • Silk (50 Ft, 4 HP, Break DC 24, 10 GP, +2 to Use Rope checks, 5 Lb).
      • Spider Silk (50 Ft, 6 HP, Break DC 25, 100 GP, +2 to Use Rope checks. 4 Lb)
      • Bloodvine (50 Ft, 10 HP, Hardness 5, Break DC 30, 200 GP, +2 to Use Rope Checks, 5 Lb).
      • Darkleaf (20 HP, Hardness 10, Break DC 35, 500 GP, +2 to Use Rope Checks, 4 Lb
  • DC 30:
    • Charm Rope: You may cause a rope to perform as if affected by Animate Rope, Handy Grapnel, or Tripvine. At DC 40 you may cause a Rope Trick, Ropeweave, or Snare effect. At DC 50 you can cause a rope to function as a Rope Of Climbing for a day. At DC 60 it functions as a Rope Of Knots for a day. At DC 75 it functions as a Rope of Entanglement for a day.
    • Jury Rig: You may fix something (including things that you have no right to fix) with rope. This equates to using Make Whole (Greater).
    • Phase Knots: You may tie, or automatically untie, knots without access to the ends of a rope and without damaging the rope, simply by causing it to pass through itself. You may also use this trick to instantly splice rope, to create loops along it, to conceal it’s ends inside itself, or to escape from rope bonds.
  • DC 35:
    • Cable Snap: You may lash out with a rope as a touch attack, inflicting 1d6/level slashing damage (20d6 maximum) to a single target or inflict half that much damage to a cone up to 60 feet long with no roll to hit – although this allows those within the area a reflex save for half damage. In either case, anyone who takes damage will be knocked prone.
    • Knot Of Lightning: A rope master working during a thunderstorm may catch natural bolts of lighting in knots, storing a maximum of (Dex Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) such bolts. A natural bolt normally causes (1d6+4)d8 damage to a 80 foot line or a 15 foot radius within medium range. Sadly, untying – and directing – the bolt costs just as much Mana as trapping it in the first place.
    • Zip Line: You may use a rope to transport yourself (via swinging, climbing, being pulled up by some odd mechanism, sliding along a line, or whatever) to any open area that can be reached without passing through a solid barrier within short range as a move action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. At DC 50 you may extend this to Medium Range, at DC 75 to Long Range, and at DC 100 you may cover up to ten miles in 3d6 rounds. You may carry others along as long as you can lift them.
  • DC 40:
    • Capstan Winch: You may catch a target within medium range that fails a reflex save and move it or them to some other location within medium range. While the location must be open, it need not offer support. If you move a living target past someone they provoke attacks of opportunity as usual You may also opt to slam a target into a solid surface for up to (Check Result) damage (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing depending on the nature of the surface) or to simply spin them in place, leaving vulnerable targets subject to the Nauseated condition for 2d4 rounds. At +20 DC you may attempt this as an immediate action against an unresisting target, allowing you to catch falling allies or move them around the battlefield.
    • Silver Cord: You may tie a spirit into it’s body, preventing it’s departure even if the body dies. This will delay actual “death” for up to (Check Result) rounds after the body takes deadly damage, and allows the body to be “healed back to life” by any healing effect applied during that time. An untriggered Silver Cord remains tied for twenty-four hours (72 hours at DC 60, one week at DC 75, and until activated at DC 100).
    • Splice Fate / Twisting The Threads (A.K.A “Witches Ladder”): You may splice and entangle the threads of fate. This allows you to Twist Fate as per Destiny Magic. At DC 40 you may produce first level effects and second level effects, at DC 50 third, at DC 60 fourth, at DC 75 fifth, and at DC 100 sixth. This – as shown below – is a difficult endeavor and fraught with peril. It is best to think carefully before attempting it.
      • This option covers Marriage Knots, Curse Knots, Fertility Knots, Sterility Knots, attempts to bring good fortune, and many other types of knot-spells.

Twisting Fate:

Destiny Magic manipulates the probabilities of the future. The level of destiny magic spells depends on two basic factors: the level of effect you want and how much you want the spell to consider your desires. This can be very, VERY, dangerous. For some samples:

  • “We will have good luck in this battle”. This one is safe enough; you and your friends get some luck bonuses. You can simply use some of the appropriate spells.
  • “She will look over this way and notice me”. Also pretty safe unless you’re a wanted criminal, or a werewolf who will start her screaming or some such. People look around and notice things all the time. There probably won’t even be a save.
  • “They will drop the charges and let me out of jail in the morning”. Less safe, but unlikely to get you really hurt. One character tried this with a low-level spell; the locals concluded that he was mad – or “god-touched” – and shipped him off to an asylum where the monks would listen to his ravings in search of prophecy. This was awkward, but he WAS out of jail with the charges dropped.
  • “A diversion will come up during the trip that will give me a chance to escape”. This turned out a lot better; a diversion wasn’t unlikely and the destiny mage made it a higher level spell to avoid the diversion turning out to be a major monster attack or something and wound up with a few falling rocks, one of which knocked the transport wagon open. He then made his escape under his own power. (He didn’t even consider trying “The Daimyo will pass by along the way, recognize me as foreign but not mad, and give me an excellent job!”. THAT would call for a very high level spell indeed unless events along those lines were already in the works).
  • Thus “You will soon be badly injured” is pretty easy. “You will be hit by a runaway cart tomorrow and badly injured” is harder, but still plausible. “You will be hit and badly injured tomorrow by a runaway cart driven by your drunken son who will be crippled in the accident” is WAY up there, and may well be effectively impossible – if, say, the kid is currently several hundred miles away. Trying to force an event that unlikely into existence is also likely to have all kinds of unlikely side effects which may well endanger the caster and his or her party. Worse, it usually allows a save.
  • For an example from the more disastrous side… The party was hunting a colossal river serpent. They obtained flying steeds and attacked it at long range. The serpent promptly dove to the bottom of the river and burrowed into the mud where they could not reach it. One of the characters then tried to use first level Destiny Magic to make the serpent to come back up and fight. What was easiest? A lure. Where was he? Hovering directly over the river where the serpent was. He’d used a spell of such low level that it didn’t consider anything but what he’d asked for. Ergo… a biting bug bit his steed in a sensitive spot, he got bucked off, he landed in the river, and the serpent came back up to eat him – instigating the desired fight, but at close range rather than the desired sniping contest. He asked for a specific, and not unreasonable, event – but lacked the power to constrain his spell to more acceptable methods. A slightly higher level spell might have brought a cow by to drink and had it fall in.

If you try to directly affect someone else they get a save. So “May your bowstring break!” is simple, and not implausible (bowstrings do break) – but it allows a save, and if the save is made normal probabilities continue in their course. Of course, twisting destiny to tell an Orphan that “you will soon be adopted by a fine set of parents!” is not too likely to provoke a save, even if the easiest way to arrange that does affect the kid. He or she won’t WANT to resist that destiny.

  • DC 50:
    • Knot Of Storms: A rope master may bind storms. Such a knot may be tied to dismiss a severe weather event or untied to release one. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of the user’s control over such events. Worse, he or she must actually find such an event to bind and may maintain no more than (Cha Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) such storm knots at any one time.
    • Primacord: You may cause up to two hundred feet of rope to burn as swiftly or slowly as you wish. You may thus render it effectively fireproof, use it as a fuse or a way to transport fire, or use it as a high explosive (Equivalent to twice it’s weight in TNT ), causing this effect to activate by any one of contact, pressure, proximity, time, or chemical exposure. The effects are equal to those of an equivalent weight of C4 or twice the weight of Det Cord (See D20 Modern).
    • Splice Fate / Splice Threads Of Life: You may splice and entangle the threads of fate, Splicing threads of life into a damaged lifeline can provide up to (Check Result) points of healing at up to medium range. You may remove certain conditions by sacrificing five points of healing per condition removed. Eligible conditions include Attribute Damaged, Attribute Drained, Dazed, Dazzled, Diseased, Energy Drained, Exhausted, Fatigued, Nauseated, or Sickened. You may also extend a targets life by up to (Check Result) years.
  • DC 60:
    • Gleipnir: You may weave rope of sunlight, of music, of fire, or of other impossible substances as available. Such rope has Hardness 15, 30 HP, Break DC 35, provides a +4 bonus on your Use Rope checks, and is 100 feet long per use of this power. It will remain in existence for twenty-four hours OR until you disinvest the mana used to power this stunt, whichever is longer. While the rope will not harm you, whatever the rope is made of has its usual effects on other creatures that handle the rope or are touched by it (Vampires HATE rope made of sunlight. Most other creatures dislike rope made of high explosive).
    • Mummy Shell: You may wrap yourself in a cocoon of animated rope, gaining +50 HP, +6 Str, +6 Natural Armor, DR 5/Adamantine AND Slashing, and a pair of 2d6 Slam Attacks. If you hit with a Slam Attack you may Grab an opponent up to once size larger than you and start to strangle them. A strangled foe cannot speak or cast spells with verbal components and suffers (1d8 + Str Mod) damage per round until it breaks free.
    • Torsion Engine Knot: You may tie a complex knot that will slowly untwist to drive a shaft. Such a knot yields up to (Makers Intelligence) Horsepower for up to one hundred days, although use need not be at full power or continuous. Unfortunately, this gradually destroys the rope used.
  • DC 75:
    • Harness Beast: If you have managed to climb onto a creature that can reasonably serve you as a mount, you may use some rope to bridle it, forcing it to make a will save or do so. This is not a mind-affecting power, and so will work on creatures normally immune to such, but intelligent or undead creatures are only affected for twenty-four hours. Animals and unintelligent magical beasts make a second save after twenty-four hours are up. If they fail that save as well, they will be permanently domesticated.
    • Mindful Knot: You may tie knots that carry out programs, solve a complex set of instructions, or perform mathematical operations. For example, a knot might untie itself after a given time or when instructed to do so, move along a rope according to some schedule, slide down a rope to reveal how much weight is tied to the end, or function as a slide rule or simple computer. If you are tying knots in electrical wire or cable and have a power source, you may cause it to emulate any circuit you wish.
    • Splice Fate / Splice Life to Death: You may splice and entangle the threads of fate, Splicing threads of life into a severed lifeline is equivalent to Create Undead or – at DC 100 – Create Greater Undead. No components are required save the corpse and the casting time is a mere full round – but you are NOT in control of the undead so created other than that they will be bound to do you a major favor and two minor favors. It is wise to reserve one minor favor to request that they go away and leave you and your friends in peace henceforward.
  • DC 100:
    • Man The Lines: A rope master needs no crew to operate a sailing ship at its full capacity; the ropes and lines will do it for him – manifesting as up to (Level) Rope Golems with rope-related skills at +10
    • Puppet Strings: You may control the physical actions of any corporeal creature or object of up to Colossal size within medium range that fails a Fortitude save, causing them to act as if they were Animated Objects subject to your control. They may take mental actions normally however. Sadly, you may control no more than (Dex Mod, 1 Minimum) such targets at any one time, controlling them is a swift action each round, and the maximum duration of control is 2d4 rounds for creatures or 1d4+1 hours for objects.
    • Ropework Automaton: You may add assorted ropes and pulleys, a Torsion Engine Knot, and a Mindful Knot to an articulated framework to create Ropework Automatons that function similarly to Animated Objects. Such constructs gain an additional (Int Mod +2, 2 Minimum) Construction Points and cost 100 GP per hit die to build. Unfortunately, they require adjustment, tinkering, maintenance, and replacement of their Torsion Engine on a regular basis – and while smaller constructs may be less actual work, they require more finesse. The user may maintain no more than (Dex Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) such automatons at any one time.

Epic Stunts:

  • Tie Rope Golem (Level Seven, DC 38): You may tie a knot that will immediately grow into a Rope Golem that will serve you for the next twenty-four hours.
  • Grandiose Snare (Level 8, DC 42): As a free action you may entangle one Small or smaller target per level (a Medium target counts as two Small or smaller targets, a Large target as four, a Huge target as eight, a Gargantuan target as 16, and a Colossal target as 32) within medium range. Those who fail a reflex save are entangled for 2d4 rounds, after which the constantly-regenerating ropes fall away.
  • Regenerate Rope (Level 9, DC 46): All of your ropes regain 5 hit points per turn for the rest of the day unless destroyed by fire or disintegration.
  • Weave Of Winds (Level 10, DC 50): You learn to instantly spin nothingness into rope, and will never run short of the equivalent of hemp, silk, or spider-silk rope. Sadly, such rope fades away again in one week and is obviously only quasi-real, and hence unsalable. Worse, it may not be improved by Rope Care.
  • Entangle Threads (Level 11, DC 54): You may create Mystic Links between people, places, and things, up to a maximum of (Charisma +2) CP worth. While you may drop such links at any time, they will otherwise remain for a year and a day.
  • Whip Swarm (Level 12, DC 58): You may summon forth a dozen floating whips, as per Feather Token: Whip.
  • Lasso Defense (Level 13, DC 62): You may spend an immediate action to ensnare and redirect an incoming bject or ranged attack which is going to hit someone or some area within short range. You may redirect falling items, vehicles, and missiles of up to gargantuan size, spells of up to level six, toxic clouds, breath weapons, and similar items as long as they have a physical manifestation. You could catch an incoming Fireball (a streaking ball of flame that explodes), but not a Charm Person spell. Fortunately, in d20, all elemental attacks have physical manifestations.
  • Noose Of The Executioner (Level 14, DC 66) Every non-ally within medium range will be yanked twenty feet into the air by a noose around their neck or necks. This does not harm diminutive or tiny creatures. Small creatures take 2d6 damage, from this, medium creatures 4d6, large 6d6, huge 8d6, Gargantuan 10d6, and Colossal 12d6. Larger creatures take 14d6 damage, but cannot be so suspended. Regardless of size, all targets are Entangled, and cannot speak or cast spells with verbal components. Victims can break (DC 32), escape (make an Escape Artist check at +10 against the casting check), or cut (AC 15, Hardness 5, 20 HP) the rope. Victims who fail to get away suffer half the initial damage each round until they do or until the effects one-minute duration expires.
  • Spellbinding Knot (Level 15, DC 70): You may tie a knot that renders a spell effect of up to level six within close range permanent until it is either dispelled, broken in some other fashion, or the knot is found and untied (an opposed check. If it is cut or destroyed otherwise the permanent spell is not affected).
  • Bridge Of Clouds (Level 16, DC 74): This narrow rope-and-plank bridge can be called forth wherever there is a great drop – from the peak of a mountain, from the edge of a great chasm, or some similar spot. The far end cannot be seen, but is obviously a great distance away. The bridge itself will often appear more than a little unsafe. Those who venture forth will find themselves traveling through a white mist, with no apparent features for a time that cannot be measured. Those who persevere will find themselves emerging in some reasonably well-concealed spot in whatever realm the caster sought – whether that is a distant world, an outer plane, or a realm of myths. Anyone who falls or jumps from the bridge will fall onto a random plane or world. Once called into being, a Bridge Of Clouds is permanent unless assailed by some epic force.
  • Splice Lifeline (Level 18, DC 82): You may use this effect on behalf of others or after you die yourself to transfer a willing soul and consciousness into a new body – normally one that has been recently killed in the case of material beings, usually one that has been newly created in the case of outsiders. You must give up enough of your current abilities to purchase the new forms abilities; if you cannot afford to do so, the reincarnation fails. You awaken Fatigued and down half your (new) hit points. You do, however, enjoy a free choice of forms; if you want to come back as an adult dragon, and can afford to pay for it, then so you do. Your new form may be in a problematic situation when you awaken, but it will never be in immanent danger of death; you will always be able to survive and escape pretty much unharmed if you behave sensibly.
  • The Fisher King (Level 19, DC 86): You may cast a net into the planes beyond, seeking what you will. You may draw forth any creature or group of creatures that could be Summoned by a spell of level nine or less to serve you for a day, a permanent item worth up to 75,000 GP that you can use for a week, or a selection of minor minions (cooks, ordinary guards, etc), supplies, and simple structures that will keep you eminently comfortable for up to a year. Alternatively, you may perform a True Resurrection on up to (Check Result) levels of individuals.
  • Bind The Cataclysm (Level 20, DC 90): You may bind a catastrophe – a supervolcanic eruption, incoming solar flare or major asteroid strike, gargantuan earthquake, or similar disaster of vast scale in a knot. If and when you wish to let it out and direct it at a target you may untie the knot. Sadly, no one caster can bind more than three Cataclysms at a time.
  • Bind Nature (Level 21, DC 94): You may bind the divine forces of nature into knots, duplicating Druidical spells when they are unknotted. Each such knot takes an hour to tie, no more than three may be tied per day, and no more than thrice three may be maintained at any one time – but each such knot can duplicate a Druidical spell of up to level seven – although any expensive material components must be supplied when the knot is tied or removed by using a higher-level spell. Untying such a knot is a full-round action. Such knots can be used by others, but this does not bypass the limit of nine maintained knots at a time.
  • The Labyrinth Of Creation (Level 22, DC 98): You may toss out a tangled length of string or cord to any location within sixty feet. Those within thirty feet of where it lands may attempt a reflex save to avoid winding up deep inside the mighty dimensional labyrinth which will spring up, forcing other structures and folk aside as it rapidly grows. While this is not inescapable, it is a many-leveled megadungeon, will remain for a year and a day, and will tend to draw those who come too close – or who attempt to follow a trail that passes through the area it now covers – within for many desperate adventures. Targets may well survive, and may emerge more powerful than before, but nothing short of a Wish, Miracle, Gate, or other effects of similar potency will get them out in less than a week or two. Mere teleportion, plane shifting, and similar tricks will merely be diverted within the coils of the labyrinth.
  • Knot Of Time (Level 23, DC 102): You may loop time back upon itself, knotting its flow to place a great area into stasis. While this solves nothing, and nothing can affect whatever is in the out of time area, this does allow the user to put evils in a can, to preserve imperiled realms for a better time, to seal away dark kingdoms, and to stop hordes of demons and such. The effect is not subject to spell resistance, or antimagic, or local counterspelling. If the caster includes himself or herself in the area, the effect will last until conditions are suitable for it to end – whether that takes a week or a half a million years. If the caster remains outside the area, it will remain bound until whatever conditions the caster sets are apply, until the knot is untied (or falls to dust), or until the caster uninvests the mana used to perform this feat.
  • Summon Mar’Tha’Kanak’hka, The One That Formless Binds, The Writhing Entwinement (Level 24, DC 106): You summon forth an aspect of an Elder One, a twisting mass of ropelike fibers that exists in far too many dimensions to comprehend. Things get very weird across the local solar system or equivalent. Portals open as dimensions are linked together, creatures find themselves abruptly married to other creatures for no apparent reason, things that were once bound are loosed, and things previously free are bound. Eventually someone casts this spell backwards, or finds some other way to get Mar’Tha’Kanak’hka to go away (usually requiring either some epic quest or accepting permanent madness to allow one to communicate enough to ask it politely), or it simply goes away on its own and the world stabilizes. The caster does get some input into how the world is transformed, but this is more or less “I wish!” directed at an entity that does not understand reality at all. Mar’Tha’Kanak’hka probably isn’t hostile – after all, it helped make this particular flower arrangement universe – but if it was, and there was some way to tell the difference, it would presumably be bad somehow.
    • Invariably someone will want to find a way to kill Mar’Tha’Kanak’hka. I can’t think of anything, if only because it exists in a lot more dimensions of time than we do – but if someone insists, then fine. Binding forces have never existed, nor has the universe in any form that human beings are capable of comprehending. Mar’Tha’Kanak’hka vetoed that set of plans back at the beginning, and introduced another variant of his aspect into the universe that was made instead of this one.

Rope and knot magic have traditionally been considered fast and powerful magic simply because rope itself is such a fundamental thing, a tool with a myriad uses. It’s only human to assume that working magic with rope – literally Spellbinding – shares that same power and versatility. Thus Babylonian witches were said to capture souls in knots, ancient Greeks and Egyptians attempted to work love-spells, bind marriages, and heal with knots (the marriage-knot or knot of Hercules originated here, eventually becoming a protective charm associated with fertility and new life), sailors in many lands attempted to control the winds with knots. The Knot Of Isis was wound into shrouds in an attempt to summon the protection of Isis and Horus for the deceased’s journey to the next world. In Rome knot-curses were used to cause everything from impotence to a lingering death while other knots bound demons and vampires. Ancient priests wore knotted fringes to ensnare evil spirits and the Koran speaks of Mohammed being nearly slain by a curse from a knotted cord. In African traditions knots can bind others to your will. In more modern times we have Witches Ladders and spells worked though tying knots, They function as magic snares, invoke gods, and bind the energies of nature to your will. Like most other truly ancient skills… the use of rope is wound around with legend and magic.

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One Response

  1. […] Part XI: Use Rope. Fundamentals Of Civilization, Alternative Skill Systems and Options. Use Rope / Cable / Ch…. […]

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