In an attempt to make a custom race, I'm parsing down a large, broad question idea into several smaller ones. This race, flavorfully, is supposed to have extreme proficiency with grappling hooks and ropes, not only as a climbing devices, but as weapons.

Are there any rules governing how one might go about using grappling hooks and ropes as weapons in D&D 4e, or, barring explicit rules, does anyone have any way to extrapolate existing rules on other things in 4e and figure out how this might work?

Barring that, can anyone tell me of their own experience of using this kind of thing vis a vis homebrews, what your system was, and how effective it was?

What I'm mechanically expecting from a grappling-hook/rope weapon.

  • Should probably be reach
  • Should be able to pull opponents
  • Should be able to bind opponents (slow effects or restrained or something similar)
  • Should still be able to be used as a standard grappling hook
  • Should be easily placed into the existing framework of magical weapons

Those don't all have to be properties of the weapon. Spending a feat slot to use the restrained ability of the weapon could be a viable option (off the top of my head.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Mechanically what are you trying to accomplish with these hooks and ropes as weapons/tools? That is the core question you should be asking, but especially for 4e. Once we know the mechanical goals, we can then appropriately judge if you can simply reskin another weapon and/or item to fit or if you need to try to homebrew something. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 '15 at 19:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaAslanSmith edited for clarification. thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – sillyputty
    Mar 19 '15 at 19:33

I only know about Cahulaks because of Polisurgist's answer.

Cahulaks from Dark Sun are essentially two grappling hooks connected by a rope. From the Dark Sun Campaign Guide:

Cahulaks: This double weapon features two four-bladed, hafted heads separated by a length of rope. The secondary end is light enough to be used as an off-hand weapon. When one end of this weapon is held by the haft, the rope is long enough to grant the other end reach. The entire weapon can be thrown.

If you start with this and make a few changes, you should have what you're looking for.

Mechanical Requirements

Cahulaks address most of your mechanical criteria. Feats will need to be taken for some of these.

Should probably be reach

Cahulaks have reach.

Should be able to pull opponents

The feat Cahulaks Expert lets you swap a level 6 utility power for a power called Drag Behind that lets you drag immobilized or prone creatures.

Should be able to bind opponents (slow effects or restrained or something similar)

The feat Cahulaks Novice lets you swap a 3rd level encounter power for the Tripping Cahulaks power, which can both pull an enemy and knock them prone.

The feat Cahulaks Specialist lets you swap a level 9 daily power for the power Binding Cahulaks, which knocks a target prone and immobilizes them.

Should still be able to be used as a standard grappling hook

This is not the case. You would need to create house rules for this. This could be as simple as adding the property "may be used as a grappling hook". Grappling hooks already exist as adventuring gear, and are usually obtained via a climbing kit.

It could also be more complicated.

You would need to decide whether the rope attached to the hook as part of the weapon is sufficient, or if the rope would need to be replaced with a longer one. If it needs replaced, you'll have to decide how long that takes, and so on.

Should be easily placed into the existing framework of magical weapons

Since cahulaks are an official weapon, there are enchanted versions. They are in the Flail group.


I might drop the off-hand portion of the weapon so it's no longer a double weapon, but instead simply two-handed. The off-hand would hold the extra rope slack. This allows for a longer rope, which lets you use it as a normal grappling hook.

You might consider increasing the reach to reach 2, but I'd be careful about that. The cahulaks is also a heavy thrown weapon. Perhaps if you dropped the ability to be thrown that might balance out longer reach.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice addition. Comment cleanup! \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 '15 at 22:16

Cahulaks from Dark Sun are very similar to grappling hooks; you could start there and make some stat changes and have a good start to a grappling hook-themed combat style.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Given the clarification in the question, can you add something about how much of the desired mechanical aspects the cahulak covers and how much would have to be extended from there? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 '15 at 19:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Once I get to my Dark Sun books, yes, though in the meantime, if anyone else wants to chime in, I'm all ears. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 '15 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I started to edit some information into your answer, but once I started putting some suggestions in I decided to post my own answer so as to avoid putting my words in your mouth. \$\endgroup\$
    – DCShannon
    Mar 19 '15 at 21:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ And that's as good or better than I'd have written; thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 '15 at 21:59

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