Have you ever wondered what happens to cursed items in the world? Not all cursed items fail spectacularly or fatally; some are simply worthless. However, shrewd merchants of arcane items will have learned to pass off these cursed items to adventurers who may never stop by their town again.

Here is the knotless rope, as inspired from Twenty Sided:

At first glance, the knotless rope appears to be a length of good quality silk rope. Detect magic reveals a faint aura of transmutation.
This item is a rope of climbing gone wrong. As soon as any knot tied in this rope is released from the grip of the user, it immediately disappears (becomes untied). There is no way to keep this rope knotted without continuously holding the knot.

This rope is found in odd specialty shops and sold by flashy, pushy shopkeepers. These shopkeepers should be glib and deftly demonstrate the ability of the rope to release any knot tied in it. However, the crafty salesman will use Bluff to convince likely buyers that the knot is released upon a keyword which is spoken, by letting go of the knot at the same time as they speak the “keyword”. Most players don’t look twice at such items and will be fooled, happily shelling out some gold for this magic trick rope.

Note: depending on your group, your players may be coming back for revenge. You have several options as DM, many of which can be plot leads:

  • The shopkeeper is helpless against the power of seasoned adventurers, and at the point of knife (fireball, greatclub, Intimidate, etc), happily refunds their money.
  • Lawful characters may be forced to seek recompense through the law. Magistrates and sheriffs may side with the shopkeeper, depending on the wording he used (or politics, plenty of possibilities here). If they were crafty enough when they sold it, they probably managed to do so without lying.
  • The merchant has other adventurer clients who owe him favors. This could lead to more juicy conflict down the line.
  • The merchant himself is an ex-adventurer, and with the wealth of his lucrative magic item business can afford to defend himself. This works best with low level characters, because even a level 12 NPC faces serious difficulties against mid-level PCs. Very high level merchants are a bad idea because players become upset when they find every magic merchant is secretly a level 20 wizard.

Provided below are the stats for a merchant in my campaign, the ubiquitous Akbar of Akbar’s Specialty Shoppe:

Akbar, Monk 8/Wizard 5
HP: 59
Speed: 50′
AC: 18 touch 18 flatfooted 14 (+1 Wis, +4 Dex, +1 monk, +2 deflection)
Saves: +8/+11/+11 (+2 vs enchantment)
Attack: Unarmed +10 / Grapple +10
Full Attack: Flurry of Blows +9/+9/+4 damage 1d10+1
Stats: Str 12, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 13Special abilities: Stunning Attack (8/day, DC 23), Improved Trip, Wholeness of Body (16 hp)
Special qualities: EvasionFeats: Eschew Materials, Spell Focus: Enchantment, Scribe Scroll, Craft Wondrous Item, Improved Disarm, Deflect Arrows, Combat Casting, Dodge, Still SpellRelevant skills: Bluff +12, Concentration +8, Sense Motive +10, Spellcraft +16Spells memorized:
3rd: Suggestion (DC 18), Hold Person (DC 18)
2nd: Web, Hypnotic Pattern (DC 17), Mirror image
1st: Charm Person (DC 16), Hold Portal, Mage Armor, Sleep (DC 16)
0th: Daze (DC 15), Ghost Sound, Mage Hand, Open/Close
Akbar is a genial merchant who runs the Specialty Shoppe, which carries a small selection of just about everything (and therefore seems the opposite of its name). He is dressed in light robes and is very willing to help his customers find whatever they need. He invariably has one in his backroom with an associated story which makes it “very lucky indeed!” (and therefore slightly more expensive).

He is willing to accept characters’ debt at 15% interest in lieu of full payment, if they look hardy enough to survive adventuring.

Akbar prefers to not let his customers know about his abilities. If he feels endangered, he will attempt to first incapcitate one or more opponents with enchantments by suggesting they go turn themselves in to local law enforcement. If faced with a stiff fight, he uses his mobility to gain distance while trusting in his ability to cast in combat to apply his magical defenses. He has no fear of melee, and will always use a stunning fist on the first attack of every round, attempting to interrupt and stun spellcasters first.