View Full Version : [4.0] Grappling Hook/Spiked Chain Issues

2010-01-10, 02:33 AM
As a new DM, I've made certain...allowances...to keep my fledgling game world flowing with certain players. Currently; however, I have come to the conclusion that one of these allowances has gone a little too far and has probably un-balanced the game system, which is why I am coming to the Oots community for help, as I am wondering how crazy I should let this go.

The fighter("blue" dragonborn) in the party has basically weaponized a grappling hook. Long story short, he lost his battle-axes (bi-wielded, he follows rule of cool instead of optimization), and in an attempt to continue fighting attaches a chain to a grappling hook, and used it as weapon(I counted it as a d6 flail with reach 2 at the time, plus as a conduit for lightning breath attacks, he rolled high so I let it slide). Well, at the next town we are at, the first thing he does is visit the local blacksmith and have him make a custom superior weapon out of it. I made him shell out approx 300gp for it(like the total cost of all the components and more for special orders).
In short summary, the dragonborn spends an hour or so each day refining his skill with this thing, and has come up with several attack styles and powers for it, justified by "similar weapons" that he takes it from, and I want to see how just it really is:

The head is an over-sized grappling hook, stylized to be sharp along the prongs and coming to a point, so it deals stabbing damage with use. He claims its approx the weight of a heavy flail(2d6+3). He has attached this to a 25 foot chain, which he uses the first 15 feet of and retains the other 10 or so for maneuvering(giving it reach 3), and considers it a two handed weapon. After throwing, it takes a full round action to reel in. Every single point about this thing I've had to argue about(including whether he can pull out one of his axes and fight during the reeling turn due to having Quick Draw and Two Weapon Fighting feats, luckily it was "no"). That is the base of the weapon, which seems a little heavy to start, but not game rending, but some of the attacks hes come up with are starting to unbalance it, I want to make these into either encounter powers, but want opinions first:

on a successful standard attack, the weapon can also be used for a disarm check (dex vs reflex) to disarm the opponent,
I want to make this to an encounter power and half or no damage, seeking add'l input. He justifies this in a similar fashion to the bullwhip

Focus lightning(encounter/breath recharge)
+str vs AC
On a successful attack, bite chain and use breath weapon(w/ standard rules), instead of a blast area, the breath weapon is conducted to the victim's square, and only affects the victim.
The fighter claims this should work, I agree with the whole breath weapon conduction thing, but am wondering if I should include a reflex save, and make this a daily, but ultimately not sure how to handle this.

dex vs ref
similar to the disarm above except trips the target, and/or wraps add'l body parts,
same idea

I am also wondering how to treat this with:

There's a few others that he basically uses as at-will powers, should I force him to make these actual powers and re-train his previous ones?

Would inclement weather modifiers affect attack rolls as it affects ranged weapon would, as it is not "hafted" as most standard weapons are? His argument against this is it is a melee weapon, not ranged, not sure how to handle this.

Is stabbing damage really the best idea for this, or should it be crush/slash type damage?

Do you think the hit dice are accurate for it?

And ultimately, is the whole thing just unbalanced for a 3rd level dragonborn fighter?

Any constructive criticism about this is highly appreciated. Also if anyone has any tips about dealing with this player's constant development of this weapon, for keeping it balanced, or keeping those urges to expand in-check, there aren't words enough to express my gratitude. :smallsigh:

2010-01-10, 03:27 AM
.... I dont know much about 4.0, but theme-wise... that is the most badass idea for a fighter -ever-. I say allow it just out of the sheer bloody cool-factor. You said yourself he isnt optimizing, so, let it rip. :smallcool:

2010-01-10, 04:17 AM
Sounds like this could be a weapon with +2 prof 2d6 damage. I wouldn't let it count as any more than that. Beyond that it gets really complicated. Basically it seems like it could be used in close quarters as a flail and at a range as a thrown weapon. I would say given the size of of the head it would be crushing and piercing damage, like a morningstar.

"Focus lightning" should either effect just him or both him and the target as he's likely the shortest distance the electricity can take to the ground. Other than that, I don't really see a problem with it, other than it's likely after being banged with a giant grappling hook, the target isn't likely to still be touching it. Nonetheless, it's a cool idea on his part.

I don't recall disarm making it into 4e. Disarming someone also takes focus and precision which is not something a weapon like this is likely to have. If you want to let him have it, make it not do any damage and make it an encounter power to represent that the opportunity to disarm someone only comes up occasionally. It also should be a separate, non-damaging attack. Same with the trip. If he wants to give up an attack to try and get rid of the opponent's weapon or knock them prone, I suppose that's a fair trade, although I might want him to take a feat to represent the training required to do this.

Now, it sounds like the two of you have, together, made a number of powers associated with this weapon. Perhaps the best solution is to make them actual class powers for him to retrain into, as you mentioned. That way he gets the damaging abilities he wants, the coolness of the weapon is preserved, and the balance of the game is preserved (generally non-magic weapons shouldn't be giving special abilities). Also, be careful to make other players not feel left out. The amount of effort and special abilities this weapon has already generated leaves me concerned that other players may feel that this dragonborn is getting special treatment.

2010-01-10, 12:29 PM
Thanks for some clarification on what it should/shouldn't be able to do, like I said, still trying to iron things out. Luckily, everyone's is pretty new to the game, so it shouldn't take much to amend this. In response to having people feel left out, our rouge is played by a chem buff, who has bought what amounts to an entire chem lab's worth of stuff(and other various alchemical substances) for use in the field. Our wizard fits the hack-and-slash motif and is simply happy to destroy everything with fire, which works well with th team cleric who enjoys encounters as a strategy game over a rpg. But thanks a ton with this, I wasn't sure how to balance or even treat homebrewed stuff, and having someone(even a voice on the internet) to back me up with this is fantastic.

2010-01-11, 10:22 AM
A superior weapon with reach 3 2d6 damage is far too good.

There are no military 2d6 reach 2 weapons. So this weapon gains two bump ups (reach and damage) from one feat, and both of those bump-ups are easily worth a feat (if not more).

Full round actions don't exist in 4e, and shouldn't for design reasons.

For a more than good enough superior weapon:
Long-hook Training gives you access to this 1d10 reach 3, reload minor, flail group, two handed.

Special: You may take the Spiked Chain Novice/Expert/Specialist feats and use the resulting powers with your Long-hook.

Either that, or make the weapon into a spiked chain. Allow the "bite and shock" power while you are at it, because that is creative (and not too strong).