Section - The ladder
The rickety ladder is in the crypt. The initial appearance is "[if the ladder is broken]The ladder lies broken on the floor[otherwise]There's a rickety ladder resting against [the hole] in [the ceiling][end if]." The description is "You used it to enter the crypt, [if the ladder is broken]and now you start to wonder how you're ever going to get back out again[otherwise]but seeing it up close makes you wonder if it will actually hold together if you try going back up again. The [wood] looks brittle, and the [nails] are rusty. Some of the [steps] are missing[end if]." The ladder is obvious.
The wood is part of the ladder. The description is "It looks ancient and fragile.[if the ladder is not broken] Will it support your weight when you're loaded with treasure?[end if]"
The rusty pair of nails are part of the ladder. The description is "[if the ladder is broken]These two moderately rusty nails are the only ones who survived your demolition of the ladder[otherwise]The ladder is being kept together by huge, hand-crafted iron nails. Most of the are rusted through, but a few still seem OK[end if]." Understand "rusty/iron/nail" as nails.
Instead of taking the rusty nails when the ladder is not broken:
say "You attempt to pull [the rusty nails] out of [the ladder] using only your hands. Net result: nails still stuck, fingers aching."
Instead of pulling the rusty nails when the ladder is not broken: try taking the rusty nails.
Instead of removing the rusty pair of nails with the scepter when the player is carrying the scepter:
if the ladder is broken:
say "You've already extracted the nails from the ladder.";
say "Using the scepter as a crowbar, you pry the rusty nails from the ladder. Most of them break under the stress, but when you're done you at least have two fine, moderatly rusty nails. Oh, and you've also totally demolished the ladder.";
now the ladder is broken;
now the player is carrying the rusty pair of nails.
The steps are part of the ladder. The description is "Only a few steps remain intact."
Instead of taking the ladder: say "The ladder is way to unwieldy for you to carry around. Also, you might accidentally break it if you were to try moving it."
Instead of attacking the ladder: say "And how are you then planning to return to the surface world?"