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Tonight the group chanced upon a trap. To avoid overtly spoiling the encounter, I won't give too many details here, but may give out more information in comments so be advised of the possibility of spoilers!

The trap could only affect nearby PC's but dominated them, so it was kinda nasty.

The warden was able to get himself free and retreated. From a safe distance he formed a rope into a lasso and proceeded to try and free his companions by lassoing them and pulling them free.

I didn't believe there was any formal guidance in the rules for such an action, but I was able to ad-lib something fairly reasonable. My fear is that what I came up with was potentially too strong. I don't want to incent the PC's to go around lassoing every monster after all :)

Are there any rules about lassos in D&D4?

Has anyone else come upon this situation? If so, how did you resolve it, and was it satisfactory?

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The vibe I get from 4e is that using a lasso well requires you to be proficient with it. Things like bolos and whips are all in Dragon magazine as a series of multiclass feats that lets you get encounter and utility powers. –  MrHen Oct 1 '10 at 15:26
Would you position be that any slide/push due to the lasso should require a feat? (You could also create your own answer with this, I think its a valid point) –  Pat Ludwig Oct 1 '10 at 16:48
While not duplicate since the question is for the prior edition, the question, Rules for lasso capture? (rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/270/rules-for-lasso-capture), probably has relevant information. –  Eric Weilnau Oct 1 '10 at 17:22
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3 Answers

Wonder Woman holding a golden lasso

Here are a bunch of suggestions for handling lassos in different situations. Pick and choose as you like.

Obviously, you can't just let PCs succeed at lassoing enemies; there's a big difference between lassoing a willing ally and lassoing a monster that is avoiding it, so there's no need to use the same rules for both situations.

In Combat against Enemies

The danger here is that the lasso is an untested, potentially unbalanced way to grab monsters. Mitigating that somewhat is the fact that it does no damage on a hit.

Here are some ways to handle PCs using a lasso on enemies in combat.

  • Attacking monsters with a lasso can be a modified grab attack. Use the standard grab rules, except at a range of two squares, and give the PC a +2 weapon bonus for using a lasso, if proficient. Really, a lasso should be an exotic weapon and require a special proficiency in it to get that bonus. Getting out of the lasso requires breaking the grab, as usual. Cutting the lasso makes it useless. Maintaining the grab should be at least a move action. Obviously, you cannot use it on another opponent while you have one already lassoed.

  • Or as Logos7 suggests here, treat the attack as a bullrush that can pull instead of push. Treat as above (range 2 squares, +2 weapon bonus if proficient, and so on).

  • An enemy can free itself from the lasso by breaking the grab, if that rule is used, or perhaps with a successful saving throw.

  • Remember, monsters can use lassos on PCs, too!

In Combat, on Allies

In the example in the original question, the PC uses the lasso to drag allies out of danger. This is a creative use of the lasso and I believe the DM should reward this. However, this basically adds a Controller-type power to anyone who cares to use a lasso. One needs to add regular lasso use to one's campaign with caution.

Here are some ways to handle lasso use on allies in combat.

  • Use the skills given to you. Moving an ally could be a standard Athletics check. If the PC is proficient with the lasso, give him the weapon proficiency bonus to the check.

  • Treat it like a bull rush or grab, as if the ally were an enemy.

  • When in doubt, default to an ability check. Make a Dexterity check and consider adding the weapon proficiency bonus if it applies.

  • Make this lasso use an encounter power with all the usual caveats (standard action, roll to hit, etc.).

  • Allies need to free themselves from the lasso before the lassoer can use it again. This should be at least a move action, if not a standard action. This should slow down abuses of this maneuver.

  • As a final idea for thought: Is there any reason you can't just let the PCs succeed? The player did something clever; often there's no reason to pick up the dice. If it's in a combat situation and you want to pace the solution, then let the lasso user free one ally per round. In any case, the PC is forgoing use of another power for that action, so there's an opportunity cost even if they succeed automatically.

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The problem with automatically allowing PCs to lasso and pull around willing allies that it may easily spill over into combat and mess with combat dynamics. Move the slowed defender closer to an enemy? Lasso. Get the immobilized controller out of melee? Lasso. Pull the ranged striker out of retaliation range after he made his attack? Lasso. Etc. etc. etc. My suggestion would be DEX vs REF to hit with the lasso and then a secondary STR vs FORT attack to pull one square. Alternatively, the PCs could use any power that hits "any creature" and moves them around (e.g. twist of space). –  user660 Oct 1 '10 at 15:04
+1 Great point! Make "slide an ally" an encounter power attached to the lasso. I amended my first point to accommodate your comment! –  Adam Dray Oct 1 '10 at 15:12
I think the idea of using a lasso was a great one, I wouldn't go so far as to have it auto-succeed though. There were time constraints as an encounter was going on and letting them press an "easy" button to end it would be unsatisfying (I think). –  Pat Ludwig Oct 1 '10 at 16:51
Sure, but my answer offers four other options! =) –  Adam Dray Oct 1 '10 at 17:05
Edited my answer to change the order of the suggestions so people don't get hung up on the "let them succeed" option. Also incorporated Logos7's excellent "reverse bull rush" idea. –  Adam Dray Oct 1 '10 at 17:36
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Well, I would assume in this case the PCs weren't trying to avoid being lassoed, so the to-hit would be pretty easy. Trying to lasso monsters would be a different thing - hitting wouldn't be as easy. Also you're just trying to get it around a part of them so you can pull them, right, the goal wasn't to incapacitate them by binding their arms together or whatnot?

Really this is more of a skill check situation than a to-hit/combat situation in general. Using a lasso on opponents would be a lot different - hitting is harder, even if you hit it doesn't mean they're totally bound, and they can easily cut/remove it. IF you hit you might be able to execute a pull each round or whatnot, not very overpowering.

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Correct, he just wanted to pull them away from danger. The PC's were dominated, but that isn't quite as debilitating in 4e as it was previously. I think they wouldn't have to fight off the lasso even while dominated. –  Pat Ludwig Oct 1 '10 at 13:54
Hmmm...dominated says that they cannot take any actions voluntarily so the PC's would not be able to assist being lassoed. I'll edit my question to make that condition clear. –  Pat Ludwig Oct 1 '10 at 16:55
Hmm - if they're dominated, not sure about in 4e, but in earlier eds they'd be considered to have their full AC against stuff like that, so it's even worse than "can't assist," it would require some pretty good hit rolls most likely. Here's Pathfinder lasso rules if it helps (exotic weapon) - d20pfsrd.com/equipment---final/weapons/weapon-descriptions/… (doesn't deal with length/range though... IRL lassos aren't useful from more than about 10-15' away) –  mxyzplk Oct 1 '10 at 17:07
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I personally probably would have allowed a lasso to perform a "reverse bullrush" each round, after a successful attack against reflex to land the thing. Bullrush is hardly over powered in 4th edition so it provides a niche for the lasso but nothing earthshaking.

On a Side Note, Do we have to worry about spoilers here?

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Since this is a mixed player/GM environment, I'd say avoiding spoilers should be considered basic courtesy. Of course, if you really must spoil something to get your point across, so be it. –  AceCalhoon Oct 1 '10 at 14:22
I like the reverse bullrush suggestion. I allowed them to use the move a grabbed person mechanic, but that is dependent on the movers speed and didn't seem quite right. –  Pat Ludwig Oct 1 '10 at 16:52
Spoiler Q&A on Meta: meta.rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/192/… –  mxyzplk Oct 1 '10 at 17:04
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