“The subject of today’s lesson is rope.” Their Year Master looked across the rows of first year student adventurers, most of whom had yet to finalise their professional choice, and picked up a coil of his subject matter. “Every member of your party should carry a useful length of rope capable of bearing the weight of at least two of you at once. There is nothing more certain than if only one of you does not fall into the hole or get caught on the collapsing floor then that will be the person who has no rope with which to rescue the rest of you.” He looked around the room. “And there is nothing surer, if you live long enough in this business, that you will fall down something.”
“Please sir,” that was Sudella in the front row sticking up her hand, “what sort of rope should we buy?”
“The best you can afford that will do the job. Remember that “the best” is not necessarily the most expensive. Shop around and examine the goods before you purchase,” the Year Master waggled a warning finger. “Cut ropes can be spliced back together again, no matter what their quality. An unrepaired cut rope will fail if you stress it to its normal capacity. Magical ropes can be excellent but you don’t want to sleep with a Rope of Strangling as a pillow. Now then, who of you know what rope can be made from?” He looked about and then pointed the coil at a lad in the back corner who was gazing at the ceiling. “Robbins! Name one thing rope can be made from!”
The freckled boy startled. “Hemp, sir!”
“Very good.” The Year Master swivelled and selected a girl is the middle row on the far side of the room, “Rosemany!”
“Flax, sir!” The flat chested, half elven girl was the daughter of a paladin and sometimes a question could get her to flash the inner fire that could make her the equal of her mother. Most of the time though she sat quietly in her seat trying not to be noticed, pointed ears carefully hidden under her hair.
The Year Master whirled on his heel and pointed the rope at the thick boy one desk along from Sudella of the eternally raised hand, “Brucheld!”
“Wire!” Sudella snorted in disgust and Brucheld desperately corrected, “Silk!”
“Both are correct answers,” the Year Master said smoothly, “but wire rope is less often used for our purposes. Pray keep in mind, Brucheld, that I am the one teaching this class. Sudella, please wait back after the others leave.” Sudella appeared stunned at the idea that she might be about to be punished.
The Year Master walked back to the front desk and put down the rope in his hand. “You will spend the rest of the class familiarising yourselves with the different weights and materials displayed in these samples.” He indicated the desk. “Tomorrow we will start on knots and we will discuss weight for purpose as we go. There will be an exam on this unit of work but the ultimate test in this subject is when you find yourself suspended over a one hundred foot or more drop while secured by a knot of your own tying. That’s when you get the final pass or fail mark.”