Game Altering (or Game Breaking?) Spells: Rope Trick


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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The intent of these line of threads is to generate GM and player discussion on how these spells are used in their games in order to generate some logical analytical discussion about how GMs can make in game rulings, provide fun challenges and encounters, and if required provide some house-rule mechanics options for their table as players gain access to these spells. In theory, a GM could type the spell name in the search and then review this thread to get some useful ideas for this spell in their game.

As always, actual game-use examples from your table preferred, but we can dialogue possible uses if you can provide context.

This is an oldie but a goodie. Does it make it harder to whittle down the group prior to the boss battle, or is it the spell you -assumed- your group would use when you sent them 6 levels deep into a dungeon and they got TPKd?

Rope Trick link to PRD


Thanks to the "rope cannot be removed or hidden" clause, instead of being a 'rest anywhere' spell, it's pretty awkward.


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This is one of those spells that, again, I see more often "abused" online than I have in actual play.

The majority of my players have an objection to being trapped in whatever the space is that the rope trick creates, with at least one player remarking they'd rather take their chances nailing a door shut than being trapped at the end of a rope.

Beyond that, I find the spell one I have some questions and problems with as a GM. I dislike everything about

Rope trick says wrote:
"The upper end is, in fact, fastened to an extradimensional space that is outside the usual multiverse of extradimensional spaces. Creatures in the extradimensional space are hidden, beyond the reach of spells (including divinations), unless those spells work across planes."

This is a second level spell that effectively shuts down an entire school of magic? It may as well just be called "Base" and remove the whole rope part of it.

The few times it has been cast in my games it was used to hide for things like breaking into places to steal things, not to hide and sleep.

This one doesn't have any assumption of use by my players and is on my list to likely be removed from play. I never bothered because people used it for the above mentioned reasons and that was OK, tho the divination bit is under review.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I've heard of the theory that you just cast rope trick, climb up, and take a nap in the middle of a dungeon / enemy camp / whatever... but I've never understood how that makes any sense.

Why exactly wouldn't the monsters notice this and set traps / ambush for when you inevitably emerged?

Any party who tried that in one of my games would basically be BEGGING for a TPK. 'Here we are! Come kill us! Don't worry, we'll give you plenty of time to set up!'


I think the abuse of this comes from DMs who run a static dungeon.

Do two fights, rest up for a day to refresh all spellslots / daily abilities. then do the next two rooms. --> And the monsters in the 3rd room will keep on playing cards for all eternity untill the PCs finally deign to bash down the door. never leaving, never going out for a leak to realise that half their cohabitants are slaughtered, etc.


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This was used all the time by my players to an infuriating degree. Having a way to have a safe place to sleep, but for the level of the spell this always seemed a bit much to me. The players could see out, but creatures outside could not see in. The extradimensional space is not limited in actual size but by how many creatures can occupy it so even if a larger enemy or creature tried to sneak up on them in the space, they could be outnumbered (or the party would just bring in small creatures with them to reach the max occupancy and prevent anyone from entering). Having a way to sleep more safely in a lengthy dungeon crawl is fine, but it became the "normal" way for the party to sleep (like they would get a room at an inn and then cast rope trick in their room that night).

CBDunkerson wrote:

I've heard of the theory that you just cast rope trick, climb up, and take a nap in the middle of a dungeon / enemy camp / whatever... but I've never understood how that makes any sense.

Why exactly wouldn't the monsters notice this and set traps / ambush for when you inevitably emerged?

While Guru has a point, the issue I ran into was the fact that the group could see outside of the space while the creatures on the outside could not. They could see what was there and buff/plan accordingly while the the enemies on the outside are left to guess as to what could come out. I did eventually start having the enemies lay out traps far away from the rope trick so they were out of sight or changing the environment to get ready for a fight.


There are several divination spells work across the planes and are not blocked. It also does not prevent location of the spell itself. So while it helps some against initial probes its like turning off beacons on your wifi and thinking it is some sort of defense.


Abraham spalding wrote:
There are several divination spells work across the planes and are not blocked. It also does not prevent location of the spell itself. So while it helps some against initial probes its like turning off beacons on your wifi and thinking it is some sort of defense.

True. I meant to elaborate and was distracted by small people in my house. In any case, it still bugs. :)


If you have a problem with nerfed rope trick you might as well just play checkers. I have not seen frequent use of this, though a party that needs rest will find a way to rest or die. At 3-6 level is when the spell is most needed, it would no longer be terribly useful as a higher level spell.


I think most of Rope Trick's reputation is a carryover from 3.5, where the spell was much more effective since 3.5 allowed you to hide the rope inside your extradimensional space.


knightnday wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:
There are several divination spells work across the planes and are not blocked. It also does not prevent location of the spell itself. So while it helps some against initial probes its like turning off beacons on your wifi and thinking it is some sort of defense.
True. I meant to elaborate and was distracted by small people in my house. In any case, it still bugs. :)

no problem...

for what it is I find... no not game altering.

it is not warp wood, minor creation, shrink item or even an illusion spell where out of the box thinking opens up incredible shenanigans... It's barely s rest spell


I've never had problems with this spell. I can see some GMs letting players abuse it but that's because they let the players do so. That's more a problem with GM than the spell. If players want to Nova then Rope Trick after 1 fight they might get away with it once but the bad guys will catch on unless they fighting mindless undead and oozes.

Dark Archive

Me either. I knew one person years ago who professed it was this godly spell which lets him safely defeat anything. Yet he never once actually tried the tactics he described. Which made me think he was blowing hot air. Then again, he often did brag about how he was gods gift to (pick type of game). His tactics on the other hand often were rather lame, and only worked because countering them is more difficult then starting them. Such as using the tactic of "take the moon and stockpile troops there" in certain variants of Risk.

As for Rope Trick it's self...

Quote:
Spells cannot be cast across the extradimensional interface, nor can area effects cross it. Those in the extradimensional space can see out of it as if a 3-foot-by-5-foot window were centered on the rope. The window is invisible, and even creatures that can see the window can't see through it. Anything inside the extradimensional space drops out when the spell ends. The rope can be climbed by only one person at a time. The rope trick spell enables climbers to reach a normal place if they do not climb all the way to the extradimensional space.

Only offensive use for Rope Trick is people using a bow/crossbow. Maybe someone stabbing with a sword if the enemy is tall enough. Any intelligent enemy seeing a rope hanging in the middle of the air is going to get curious. Any magic using bad guy might be able to Dispel Rope Trick. And anything strong enough could tear away the rope. What happens then?

One time when a player group tried to rest using Rope Trick in the middle of a dungeon, well I rolled random encounters. And it turned out a troll who considered them self a chef had found the rope. This was a rather intelligent troll (10 Int, amazing) and decided to set up a cook pot beneath the rope. Apparently it had encountered Rope Trick before (50/50 chance roll) and equated "random floating rope" with "good eats".


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In many dungeon situations, leaving, resting a safe distance away (possibly with Hide Campsite magic), and then returning, is just as convenient as sleeping in an extradimensional space in the dungeon itself.

You can't hide the rope. So what would happen if you destroyed it? Or if the people who found the rope destroyed it?


The window is still there even if the rope is removed. It is much easier for the party to ambush those waiting outside than those waiting get those inside.

Dispel magic seems a simple way of dealing with it. However depends on the encounters you face. I don't like the fact that rope-trick makes night time camps and associated attacks irrelevant.

It also give the PCs a safe place to buff. There is also a big difference between needing rest and wanting to rest.

Dark Archive

You mean the same way that Mage's Magnificent Mansion does? Although that is a 7nth level spell. If you really don't want players sleeping in the rope trick extradimensional space, then remember it lasts 1 hours per level. That's not enough time for a full 8 hours rest plus time it takes the wizard to study his spell book until level 9 or 10. And as a level 3 spell you can get Tiny Hut, which is specifically a spell to create shelter. As a level 4 spell you get secure shelter, which is a physical shelter still, but one that basically takes siege engines or giants to break into.

So, why is this really an issue?


Kahel Stormbender wrote:

You mean the same way that Mage's Magnificent Mansion does? Although that is a 7nth level spell. If you really don't want players sleeping in the rope trick extradimensional space, then remember it lasts 1 hours per level. That's not enough time for a full 8 hours rest plus time it takes the wizard to study his spell book until level 9 or 10. And as a level 3 spell you can get Tiny Hut, which is specifically a spell to create shelter. As a level 4 spell you get secure shelter, which is a physical shelter still, but one that basically takes siege engines or giants to break into.

So, why is this really an issue?

I was just about to make this same point, however with the addition that by 9th level your wizard gets Teleport, so might prefer to 'go home' to rest instead of using Rope Trick.

An extended Rope Trick will work at lower levels, but then it costs a higher level slot (or metamagic rod, useful to have anyway).

It's simply not the game breaker that theorycrafting suggests it is. Even back in 1st edition days, I only remember using it when on watch while we spied on Menzoberranzan to check which patrols went out and when.


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Personally, I think it does way too much for a 2nd level spell. I prefer casters to be higher level before they start opening their own demi-planes on a daily basis. In fact, I'd almost want to make rope trick 4th level, and move secure shelter down to 2nd, so that mundane rest-shelters come online before extraplanar ones.

I also find it curious that scrying doesn't specify whether it can be used across planar boundaries -- if not, rope trick at 2nd level is better than private sanctum at 5th, but if so, we've got a 4th level spell with plane-spanning power that makes it even more problematic.


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Scrying wrote:
You can observe a creature at any distance. If the subject succeeds on a Will save, the spell fails. The difficulty of the save depends on how well your knowledge of the subject and what sort of physical connection (if any) you have to that creature. Furthermore, if the subject is on another plane, it gets a +5 bonus on its Will save.

Dark Archive

Gilarius wrote:


An extended Rope Trick will work at lower levels, but then it costs a higher level slot (or metamagic rod, useful to have anyway).

It's simply not the game breaker that theorycrafting suggests it is. Even back in 1st edition days, I only remember using it when on watch while we spied on Menzoberranzan to check which patrols went out and when.

Yes, using an Extended rope trick for your camping as a 3rd level spell. But you'd have Tiny Hut already. Which for purposes of camping is a far superior option. For one, it actually protects you from the elements. Nothing about Rope Trick suggests that it lets you safely camp in hostile weather.

It's also better as a defensive spell. The party can see out and fire ranged attacks without disrupting the spell. Sure the bad guys can too, but those inside tiny hut's dome get total concealment. Actually, that makes it better then concealing mist as a defensive spell too. Which is only fair since it's a higher level spell.

:)

You know, I've never seen a metamagic rod in-game. Ever.

Dark Archive

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Oh, hilarious use of Rope Trick in a PbP game I'm in. The party's level 3, and the wizard in the group decided to use Rope trick for our camp site. I used one of my occult skill unlocks to do a reading on if this was a good idea. Got a PM saying "the omens look bad". So I opted to set up my camp on the ground. I took first watch, with the ranger in the group planning to take over in 3 hours.

Mind you, I'm playing a hydrokinetic in that game.

I just checked the game, and the GM updated it. Exactly 3 hours after Rope Trick was cast, the spell ends. Dumping everyone who was sleeping in it onto the ground from 30 feet up. I'm dutifully going around and healing everyone with kinetic healing, but the wizard I'm having eat the burn cost for his healing. The ranger scheduled to take over for 2nd watch said

"Okay, okay, I'm up. Hell of a wakeup call. Couldn't you have just punched me Toril?"


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Kahel Stormbender wrote:
Nothing about Rope Trick suggests that it lets you safely camp in hostile weather.

How about the fact that you're in another plane of existence?

Dark Archive

With a passage that only stops magic from passing through sitting right next to you. Which means wind, cold, heat, fog, smoke from a forest fire, all this is allowed through. The 'window' needs to be permeable otherwise you'd suffocate if you spent too long up there.


See, now you're basically reading into things that aren't there.


Kahel Stormbender wrote:
You know, I've never seen a metamagic rod in-game. Ever.

Is that because you/your GM doesn't put them as loot? Or because they aren't available for buying? Or no-one crafts them?

All my casters love metamagic rods. They, perhaps, should have a thread like this to discuss their use? Our current game bans Dazing as both a rod and as a feat. The rest are available.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Kahel Stormbender wrote:
With a passage that only stops magic from passing through sitting right next to you. Which means wind, cold, heat, fog, smoke from a forest fire, all this is allowed through. The 'window' needs to be permeable otherwise you'd suffocate if you spent too long up there.

It's a spell, I'm not going to sweat the amount of fresh air in it. Nor am I going to assume the "window" is anything like a real window as far as being permeable to air, weather, or ammunition. When I run the game, the PCs aren't doing any shooting out from it, nor are they subject to the weather.


Gilarius wrote:
Kahel Stormbender wrote:
You know, I've never seen a metamagic rod in-game. Ever.

Is that because you/your GM doesn't put them as loot? Or because they aren't available for buying? Or no-one crafts them?

All my casters love metamagic rods. They, perhaps, should have a thread like this to discuss their use? Our current game bans Dazing as both a rod and as a feat. The rest are available.

Not a bad idea, could be "Game Alerting (or Game Breaking) Items: xxx"

I'm also thinking over a theme of threads for GM Advice with topic in the titles. I'm kind of surprised that the only GM section I found searching was PFS.


Rain doesn't fall up, and while wind may pass through it has nowhere to go, so it isn't going to be any windier than a sheltered cave. In fact the size of the window and the fact that there is presumably a floor around the who means it would be much better. The rope trick can sleep a substantial number of people.

Incidentally the rope trick can be hidden if the rope blends into the environment. In the jungle with vines and creepers, on a moored boat, in a chandlers shop, in a dark room, in a room otherwise obscured with fog/webs etc.


We use rope trick extensively at our table, but it has backfired on us twice. On both occasions the rope was destroyed which the GM ruled as ending the spell thus dumping us unexpectedly on the ground to the delight of a curious and also rather hungry monster on one of those occasions.

I think the spell is okay because it seems to encourage risky behaviour, at least in our group. Instead of returning to the safety of a town for the night (from level nine onwards we can just teleport back) the party risks sleeping out in the dangerous wilderness.


Just curious does anyone else treat a rope trick like a portable hole since they are both extra dimensional spaces? In other words you can't put a bag of holding inside a rope trick and you need a source of air if you plan on being inside one for a long period of time.


Boomerang Nebula wrote:
Just curious does anyone else treat a rope trick like a portable hole since they are both extra dimensional spaces? In other words you can't put a bag of holding inside a rope trick and you need a source of air if you plan on being inside one for a long period of time.
I wouldn't let it require an extra air supply (at the cost of having it "refresh" air through the "window", hence, as Kahel said above, I'd let heat, cold, wind and smoke get into the extradimensional space), but there are actual rules about the interactions between extradimensional spaces:
PFSRD wrote:

Extradimensional Spaces

A number of spells and magic items utilize extradimensional spaces, such as rope trick, a bag of holding, a handy haversack, and a portable hole. These spells and magic items create a tiny pocket space that does not exist in any dimension. Such items do not function, however, inside another extradimensional space. If placed inside such a space, they cease to function until removed from the extradimensional space. For example, if a bag of holding is brought into a rope trick, the contents of the bag of holding become inaccessible until the bag of holding is taken outside the rope trick. The only exception to this is when a bag of holding and a portable hole interact, forming a rift to the Astral Plane, as noted in their descriptions.

Unless otherwise specified (Bag of Holding vs. Portable Hole), extradimensional containers can be placed into extradimensional spaces, but you can't open them there. So, you can bring your Bag of Holding, Handy Haversack or Portable Hole into your Rope Trick, but you can't access the contents in there.


So does that mean a handy haversack can be placed in a portable hole?


Handy Haversack is ambiguous.
"It has two side pouches, each of which appears large enough to hold about a quart of material. In fact, each is like a bag of holding and can actually hold material of as much as 2 cubic feet in volume or 20 pounds in weight."
Are they like a bag of holding in terms of how they interact with a portable hole too? I wouldn't advise trying it.


However, by the rules, you could definitely put a Bag of Holding into a Handy Haversack (or into another Bag of Holding, for that matter).
Or a Portable Hole into another Portable Hole.
It just means that you'll take several rounds of rummaging through your multiple stacked Bag of Holdings/Portable Holes.


The rules are too complicated. I simplify it by saying put one inter-dimensional thing inside another and boom!


CBDunkerson wrote:

I've heard of the theory that you just cast rope trick, climb up, and take a nap in the middle of a dungeon / enemy camp / whatever... but I've never understood how that makes any sense.

Why exactly wouldn't the monsters notice this and set traps / ambush for when you inevitably emerged?

Any party who tried that in one of my games would basically be BEGGING for a TPK. 'Here we are! Come kill us! Don't worry, we'll give you plenty of time to set up!'

Pre-Pathfinder you could pull the rope into the hole after you, this would allow groups to vanish out of the dungeon, rest up and drop back in hours later.

In fact I'm not sure my current group is aware of the "Rope cannot be moved or hidden" clause that has been added, because they were making a big deal about making certain the Wizard got the spell

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Greylurker wrote:
Pre-Pathfinder you could pull the rope into the hole after you, this would allow groups to vanish out of the dungeon, rest up and drop back in hours later.

Actually, the original AD&D Rope Trick had a short duration. It was only in the 'middle editions' that you had long duration AND could hide the rope. Even then, the spell could be detected by anything that could see invisibility, and it was explicitly hazardous to bring extra-dimensional space items into the hiding space.


Wizards get Scribe Scroll for free.
Wizards win at Spellcraft.

When you're in a situation where you're out adventuring and a place is needed to sleep, most smart wizards will already have a stash of scrolls of various levels written for this purpose.

I have yet to find the rules that don't allow me to bypass the caster level prerequisite of an 8th CL scroll of Rope Trick by upping the DC by 5.

If someone can find it, please share.


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master_marshmallow wrote:

Wizards get Scribe Scroll for free.

Wizards win at Spellcraft.

When you're in a situation where you're out adventuring and a place is needed to sleep, most smart wizards will already have a stash of scrolls of various levels written for this purpose.

I have yet to find the rules that don't allow me to bypass the caster level prerequisite of an 8th CL scroll of Rope Trick by upping the DC by 5.

If someone can find it, please share.

Magic Item Creation said

The DC to create a magic item increases by 5 for each prerequisite the caster does not meet. The only exception to this is the requisite item creation feat, which is mandatory. In addition, you cannot create potions, spell-trigger, or spell-completion magic items without meeting its prerequisites.

And:
For potions, scrolls, and wands, the creator can set the caster level of an item at any number high enough to cast the stored spell but not higher than her own caster level.


I always assumed time didn't really move in extra-dimensional spaces, seeing how they are outside the normal dimensions- time being one of them. Which means that you can't use rope trick as a place to rest and regain spells.

Maybe I'm wrong.

Liberty's Edge

Kirth Gersen wrote:

Personally, I think it does way too much for a 2nd level spell. I prefer casters to be higher level before they start opening their own demi-planes on a daily basis. In fact, I'd almost want to make rope trick 4th level, and move secure shelter down to 2nd, so that mundane rest-shelters come online before extraplanar ones.

I agree. When Tiny Hut is a higher level and while giving total cover. Is nowhere near as useful as rope trick. Maybe the devs thought having a climate controlled magic hut would be game breaking. Compre the two rope trick is so much better imo. I also agree at Secure Shelter being a lower level.


Blymurkla wrote:

I always assumed time didn't really move in extra-dimensional spaces, seeing how they are outside the normal dimensions- time being one of them. Which means that you can't use rope trick as a place to rest and regain spells.

Maybe I'm wrong.

Yeah, that certainly isn't the standard interpretation of 'extra-dimensional'. Making demiplanes where time flows at a different rate is a higher level spell ability.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
memorax wrote:
I agree. When Tiny Hut is a higher level and while giving total cover. Is nowhere near as useful as rope trick.

Nah! Tiny Hut is freaking awesome. You just have to realize that it is really a combat spell. :]

Put an archer rogue in there and they can get full sneak attack damage on every shot. Casters can hang out inside to avoid being targeted while they're lobbing spells. Melee types can stand right at the edge of the sphere to keep enemies from getting in. Et cetera.

Liberty's Edge

Good point yet I still don't think it deserves to be considered a Third level spell.
Second at most.


CBDunkerson wrote:
Actually, the original AD&D Rope Trick had a short duration. It was only in the 'middle editions' that you had long duration AND could hide the rope. Even then, the spell could be detected by anything that could see invisibility, and it was explicitly hazardous to bring extra-dimensional space items into the hiding space.

Yup. 20 min./level doesn't give you much sleep, and you couldn't bring any of your handy-dandy containers into it without opening a rift into the Astral plane or something.


CBDunkerson wrote:
memorax wrote:
I agree. When Tiny Hut is a higher level and while giving total cover. Is nowhere near as useful as rope trick.

Nah! Tiny Hut is freaking awesome. You just have to realize that it is really a combat spell. :]

Put an archer rogue in there and they can get full sneak attack damage on every shot. Casters can hang out inside to avoid being targeted while they're lobbing spells. Melee types can stand right at the edge of the sphere to keep enemies from getting in. Et cetera.

Totally agree! We did that with a party containing a rogue archer, ranger archer and wizard gunslinger. Very effective!


CBDunkerson wrote:
memorax wrote:
I agree. When Tiny Hut is a higher level and while giving total cover. Is nowhere near as useful as rope trick.

Nah! Tiny Hut is freaking awesome. You just have to realize that it is really a combat spell. :]

Put an archer rogue in there and they can get full sneak attack damage on every shot. Casters can hang out inside to avoid being targeted while they're lobbing spells. Melee types can stand right at the edge of the sphere to keep enemies from getting in. Et cetera.

Wait, there's a spell that makes sneak attack for Rogue archers actually a thing?

They really do have spells for everything.


Q: How does one finish off Aquatic Trolls in a underwater environment (no air pockets etc.)?
A: Drag them into a Rope Trick (and hope your GM doesn't smoke you out with questions about ventilation or water leaking in etc.).

I wouldn't consider it particularly game changing (any more than magic in general is) nor have I experienced any issues (from either side of the screen) with parties using it as an overnight camping sight. Things like it sealing access to all other extradimensional spaces, the lack of any alternate way out and hence becoming trapped tend to put a damper on things.

Curious what do folks believe the DC is to spot the window/portal?
20 + spell level
40 + spell level
other


Scythia wrote:
CBDunkerson wrote:
memorax wrote:
I agree. When Tiny Hut is a higher level and while giving total cover. Is nowhere near as useful as rope trick.

Nah! Tiny Hut is freaking awesome. You just have to realize that it is really a combat spell. :]

Put an archer rogue in there and they can get full sneak attack damage on every shot. Casters can hang out inside to avoid being targeted while they're lobbing spells. Melee types can stand right at the edge of the sphere to keep enemies from getting in. Et cetera.

Wait, there's a spell that makes sneak attack for Rogue archers actually a thing?

They really do have spells for everything.

Yes, tiny hut is awesome for ranged characters. Enemies are easier to hit, especially for gunslingers (flat footed touch AC) and rogues get sneak attack damage on every attack!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Scythia wrote:
Wait, there's a spell that makes sneak attack for Rogue archers actually a thing?

Actually, there are several. Basically, anything which allows the Rogue to see targets while preventing the targets from seeing the Rogue. Tiny Hut, Greater Invisibility, Darkness plus See in Darkness, Fog Cloud plus Mist Sight, et cetera.

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