Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rope Tricks

A few rope-related thoughts occurred to me recently. Why? Basically, from coming across Rope Trick I reading Daddy Grognard's blog.

Rope Trick (scroll down for the rope/gate situation) - Why do players always seem to think tying a rope around someone will let them pull them back after they go through a gate? Does this usually work? My players do it too, and it worked once with one very specific kind of gate (the "hole in reality between these points" kind of gate), but it hasn't with others (the "the gate teleports you elsewhere" kind). Still they use it every time, even if experimentation showed it wasn't the kind of gate you could stick a hand through and then pull it back out.

Rope Trick II - On that thought, why do PCs always think that tying a rope around someone's waist is a fool-proof way to rescue someone from harm? I've heard "if you fall down a pit, we can pull on the rope and pull you up." "If a monster attacks you, we can pull you back before it hits." "If you are unconscious, we can reel you back in to safety." Usually accompanied by strong denials that they need to tie the rope to anything and feigned surprise that getting yanked backwards on a rope wouldn't be smooth, fast, or easily done.

Rope Trick III - rope is one of those items that seems to take up no space. People decide to rappel down a pit's wall, or tie up some prisoners, or climb up a cliff . . . and inevitably someone says "I have 50' of rope in my bag." Really? 50' of man-supporting climbing rope . . . shouldn't that take up a whole bag? I've got around 40' of heavy cloth rope at the gym, and it's not exactly small. I wonder if modern folks just think of rope as those coils of thin yellow plastic rope, which could easily fit into a bag. It's this kind of thing that makes me want to try some form of visual encumbrance. Players that would blanch at saying "I put a gallon jug of wine in my pack" just figure anything between 10 and 100 yards of rope is pretty small.

Or are all of those mostly just my experience?


  1. That last one's surely just an artefact of a naïf (for which read "playable") encumbrance system - a small backpack holds 40lb of gear, ten yards of 3/8" rope weighs 1.5lb, so I can easily fit 200 yards of rope in the backpack.

    1. There are times I think the old SPI game Wizard's Crown had the right idea - you can carry X large items, Y medium, and Z small items, to a maximum of something like 7 or 8 significant items.

      Still, it got weird when a diamond took up a slot and if you dropped it, you could pick up a sword. :)


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