As our group has moved fully into playing D&D 5E I have been working my way through the vast amounts of older edition material I have, and how to update and use this in 5E. Today I want to talk about rope, or specifically an article from Dragon Magazine 135 Give Them Enough Rope written by Robert Plamondon. Let’s get started with a couple of question:
What’s the big deal with rope?
Adventurers always have rope and it is useful in almost any situation. Need a bridge? Climbing down a well? Scalling a castle wall? Taking prisoners? All of these tasks can be made easiest with rope.
Does it really matter what kind of rope you have?
The PHB already lists two kinds of rope, isn’t that enough? Maybe depending on how emulations your game is our isn’t. I prefer to have a great variety of authentic mundane equipment, allowing the players to use it to creatively solve problems, this of course may not be the way you play D&D.
Moving it to 5E
Robert Plamondon’s article does a great job explaining breaking strength and working strength for natural fiber ropes of various diameters. He additionally provides modifiers for breaking and working loads based on specific fiber type. Given 5E’s tendency toward abstraction my first design decision is to give information for an average natural fiber rope. I then adjusted the prices so that a 50′ coil of 11/16″ rope costs 1 GP – as shown in the 5E PHB. Since the PHB includes a recommended DC for attempting to burst the rope with a STR check I added an appropriate DC for each diameter of rope, yes it is impossible to burst 3″ or 4″ diameter rope without magically enhanced strength. Lastly to match the PHB presentation I included an hp entry for each type of rope.
- If you have old issues of Dragon lying around read the original article for more information on rope or to get stats for older versions of D&D.
- I’ll be adding these rules to my game and will give an update with how my players are using their rope.
- If you choose to use this please let me know how your players/characters use their rope too!Below you’ll find my rope table, I hope you find it useful – or entertaining.
An ancient mountain dwarf well over 300 years old is the proprietor of the Twisted Blade in Orstead Keep. His aged, tanned, and wrinkle lined face is framed by long snow-white hair and braided beard. The long years of working the forge have left their mark on Torval and age has not diminished his obvious physical strength. Torval has lived with humans for centuries and has found that it is to his advantage that few or none know all the languages he speaks, among them elven, halfling, gnomish, and orcish. Torval is friendly and happily speaks with adventurers but often slips into humming old Dwarven songs in the middle of long stories.
IDEAL: Torval idealizes beauty, specifically beautifully crafted weapons and armor.
BOND: Torval has lived in Orstead Keep because it lies near a long abandoned dwarven hold. Buried in the ruins are the secrets of how to forge mithral and adamantine together to create an alloy that has the best qualities of both metals – being slightly lighter than steel and far stronger.
FLAW: Torval covets the lost forging techniques and is loath to share information about them with others.
Torval employs two human apprentices, Dalkon and Felk, generally neither will interact with the PCs much, referring them to the dwarf.
This is a two-story square stone and wooden structure. This aged building is well maintained but still appears to be the oldest structure inside Orstead Keep. Above the door hangs a sign showing a sword laid across an anvil. A long roof extends from the eastern edge of the building covering a large forge, water trough, coal pile, and working area. The front door opens into a large room filled with common merchandise piled in bins, on shelves, counters, and the floor. Behind the counter is a door to the second room where specialty items, unfinished items, and custom ordered items are kept. The second room also has a stair case to the living quarters on the second floor and a back door.
An ancient mountain dwarf well over 300 years old is the proprietor of the Twisted Blade. His aged, tanned, and wrinkle lined face is framed by long snow-white hair and braided beard. The long years of working the forge have left their mark on Torval and age has not diminished his obvious physical strength. Torval has lived with humans for centuries and has found that it is to his advantage that few or none know all the languages he speaks, among them elven, halfling, gnomish, and orcish. Torval is friendly and happily speaks with adventurers but often slips into humming old Dwarven songs in the middle of long stories.
A young fair-haired boy of about 14, Dalkon mostly runs errands and cleans. Soft spoken and quick-witted the boy always knows what Torval wants appearing with items just as the dwarf asks for it. Dalkon will avoid eye contact when spoken to by the PCs and attempt to move on to his ‘chores’.
Is a strapping young man standing over 6′ tall. He wears his long dark hair in a braid and a long scar mars the left side of his face. Felk will talk to adventurers but is clearly not interested in the conversation, unless he has been paid to care or they have earned his trust.
Availability of merchandise and other notes
- Items valued less than 2 GP will be present in large quantities. Those priced between 2 GP and 10 GP will always be available but there will be no more than five of each item. More expensive items are available occasionally or can be special ordered.
- Torval will be unwanted used items from adventurers, typically paying 20% of the items base value, but not weapons and armor of inferior quality (such as orc weapons). If the adventurers are attempting to sell items of extraordinary craftsmanship he will pay more – up to 75% of the items value.
- Currency on hand is generally limited to less than 50 GP, mostly in silver and copper, held in a locked strong box behind the counter. Additionally Torval has four trade bars (100 GP each) in a second strong box in his room. If needed Torval will issue a letter of credit good for purchases in his business or redeemable at the Five Coins.
- If the PCs win Felk’s trust he may ask them to investigate the ruins of his family’s farm. The farm was attacked and burned to the ground eight years ago, buy marauding orcs. Felk isn’t sure that only orcs were there, he’s sure that one of the attackers – the one that gave him the scar – was human. He wants to know who attacked his family, why, and if any of his siblings are still alive.
- Torval is looking for the entrance to the ruined dwarven citadel Dar’Ias . He believes that an entrance can be found in the hills just south of the God’s Fire Mountains.
Orstead Keep Regional Map
Since we started the public d&d next playtest our group has played a lot of short adventures. Given the old school feel of the game and my current groups enjoyment of ‘The Caves of Chaos’ I took out all of the material I had from previous games based in or around the ‘Keep on the Borderlands’ over the last 30 years and built the Orstead Keep campaign from the pieces. We have played intermittently in Orstead Keep over the last 18 months and will resume with new characters once the we complete the Tyranny of Dragons campaign.
Until then I will be post most of the material I produced over the last year and a half here for your enjoyment.
The first item is a map of the keep both with and without area numbers. I’ll post the building details soon, enjoy the maps!
Locations in Orstead Keep
01) Main Gate
02) Dog Skull Tavern
03) Dog Skull Tavern Stables
04) North Wall Apartments
05) The Full Pack – Expedition Outfitter
06) Quiet Apothecary – Alchemist
07) Wandering Dwarf – Armorer
09) Summer Winds – General Supplies
10) Golden Thimble – Clothing
11) Black Anvil – Blacksmith
12) Small Wonders – Curiosities
13) Five Coins – Loan Bank & Pawn Shop
15) Merchant’s Guildhall
16) Red Flagon – Meade Hall
17) Marget’s Flop House – Boarding House
18) Hall of the Divines – Temple
19) Sirio’s House of delights
24) Private Home – King’s tax Collector
25) Private Home – Duke’s tax Collector
26) Private Home – Captain of the Duke’s guard
30) East Wall Apartments
31) Inner Gate
a) North Tower
b) South Tower
32) Guard barracks
33) Guard Stable
34) Main Keep