Tools are an integral part of any mountaineer's equipment and all climbs can
profit from the use of tools. Mountaineering tools include rope, pitons
(spikes), and ice axes. However, it is a mistaken belief that the main function of
tools is to aid in a climb. The main purpose of pitons, rope, and the like is to
prevent a disastrous fall. Climbers must rely on their own skills and abilities,
not ropes and spikes, when making a climb. Accidents happen when people forget
this basic rule and trust their weight to their ropes and pitons.
Therefore, aside from ropes, other tools do not increase the chance of
climbing success. However, in the case of a fall, climbing tools can reduce the
distance fallen. When a character falls, he can fall only as far as the rope allows,
if being belayed, or as far as twice the distance to the last piton set (if the
piton holds--a piton pulls free 15% of the time when a sudden stress occurs).
The distance fallen depends on how far apart the pitons have been set. Falling
characters fall twice the distance to the last piton that holds.
For example, Rath is 15 feet above his last piton. Suddenly, he slips. He
falls the 15 feet to his piton, plus another 15 feet past his piton since there's
15 feet of rope between him and the piton, for a total of 30 feet fallen and 3d6
points of falling damage.
Roping characters together increases individual safety, but it also increases
the chance that more than one person falls. When a character falls, the
character(s) on either side of the falling climber must roll Climbing checks (a
penalty of -10 is applied for each falling character after the first one to fall). If
all checks are successful, the fall is stopped and no one suffers any damage.
If a check is failed, that character also falls and Climbing checks must be
repeated as before. Climbing checks are made until either the fall is stopped (the
climbers on either side of the falling character[s] successfully roll Climbing
checks or the last nonfalling climber succeeds with his check), or all the
roped-together characters fall.
For example, a party of five is roped together as they go up a cliff.
Suddenly, Johann falls. Megarran, immediately above him, and Drelb, following him, must
roll Climbing checks. Megarran passes her check. But Drelb fails and is
snapped off the wall. Now Megarran must make another check with a -10 penalty (for
two falling characters), and Targash, who's bringing up the rear, must also roll
a check with a -10 penalty. Both succeed on their rolls and the fall is stopped.
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