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The spell description for rope trick (PHB, pg. 272) states:

You touch a length of rope that is up to 60 feet long. One end of the rope then rises into the air until the whole rope hangs perpendicular to the ground.

What happens if I cast rope trick on a 60 foot rope in a 12 foot high room? The ceiling is not high enough for the whole rope to hang perpendicular to the ground; conceivably, it either stops rising when it hits the ceiling or it begins to pile up on the ceiling until 12 feet of it dangle to the floor. Either way, the rope does not satisfy the bolded condition in the spell description.

Does the spell fail? Do I need to cut down my rope to be less than the height of the room before casting the spell?

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No, the spell does not fail.

The entirety of the rules for this spell are in the spell description. The first paragraph reads:

You touch a length of rope that is up to 60 feet long. One end of the rope then rises into the air until the whole rope hangs perpendicular to the ground. At the upper end of the rope, an Invisible entrance opens to an extradimensional space that lasts until the spell ends.

You touch a length of rope. It rises into the air (and continues to rise until the whole rope is perpendicular to the ground). The upper end of the rope has an invisible entrance to an extradimensional space. As far as the rules are concerned, all of this occurs instantly and simultaneously.

Nowhere does it say that the spell fails under any circumstances.

It's a judgment call by the DM what the rope actually does if the spell is cast in a space with not enough room for the whole rope. But "at the upper end of the rope, an Invisible entrance opens" regardless.

It doesn't say that the extradimensional space opens after the "whole rope" has risen into the air. It just says that it opens at the top end of the rope.

The way I've always seen this played is that the rope simply rises to the ceiling and the door to the extradimensional space is in the ceiling. There's good precedent for that in previous editions of D&D. In AD&D 1st edition, the Rope Trick spell description reads as follows:

The caster causes a rope from 5' to 30' in length to vertically straighten, rising into the air as if afixed by its upper end. The upper end is fastened to an extradimensional space that the caster and up to 5 others can enter, one at a time.

In this version of the spell, it's much more clear that the extradimensional space is already open when the rope begins to rise. This provides a resolution to the ambiguity of the 5th edition version. The DM could simply rule that this is how the spell still works in 5e. There's nothing in the 5e spell description to contradict that.

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Spell does not fail as such, but it is unable to create the extradimensional space.

Rules as written, the rope keeps rising up until the whole rope is perpendicular to the ground. The rope does not gain any special obstacle penetrating powers, so if it hits an obstacle, it can't meet the condition. But spell does not end either, so the rope keeps trying to rise up.

According to the rules, it is the end of the rope which rises up, so the rest of the rope just hangs down and will remain coiled up at the bottom, like any rope which is hanging from one end.

If something allows the rope to reach the condition "the whole rope hangs perpendicular to the ground", such as opening of a trapdoor or end of Leomund's Tiny Hut (when rope trick is cast inside it, though arguably this might make Rope Trick actually fail upon hitting the dome instead), then the spell proceeds as normal.


There is alternative RaW interpretation of the text: the extradimensional space opens immediately, and rises up with the end of the rope, and if ceiling is too low, it stops there. This opens a can of worms for all kinds of schenanigans by moving the lower end of the rope though, and requires many additional DM rulings about what happens.

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