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Bait & Switch: Tempting the Greedy

Posted In Articles, Front Page, Traps | 8 comments

treasureEvery trapsmith knows that a trap is little more than a complicated piece of furniture or decoration until it springs to life and reminds people why no one comes down this way. That is why, over the years, many clever trapsmiths have found ways to bait their traps or even install traps into tempting targets for would be thieves.

(See the “Traps” section in Chapter 13 of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game for costs associated with adding spells to traps.)

Poisoned Gold (CR equal to poison applied)

In a dungeon or community where many of the inhabitants are immune to poison, it’s not surprising to find that many of them coat their coinage in a thin film of contact poison. Handling a single coin is not enough for a harmful dose while five or more is enough for a single dose, and every five coins afterwards is yet another dose. A detect poison spell is more than enough to discover the poison on the coins…

Type mechanical; Search DC 15; Disable Device DC 5 (see note)
Trigger touch; Reset none; Bypass wearing thick gloves
Effect fortitude save for poison, damage dependent on poison
Market Price of a single dose of poison plus five gold.

Note Simply wiping or cleaning the coins with a damp rag while wearing gloves is enough to remove the poisons.

Permanent Magic Mouth (CR +1)

The magic mouth spell is often utilized merely to ward off would be intruders. Particularly malicious dungeon keepers, though, use this spell to lure would be robbers into a veritable gauntlet of death. Most of the time the magic mouth is placed just out of sight or down a long corridor in order to be triggered without alerting potential victims. Other times it will be placed on an inanimate doll or statue made to look real in order to lure heroes to rescue a distressed victim that actually isn’t there.

Illusionary Bait (CR +3)

Illusionists can make for very dangerous trapsmiths and dungeon keepers. Beyond the usual trick of disguising pit traps as a normal part of the floor, clever illusionists will add illusory piles of gold, fake images of denizens roaming the dungeon, and images of prisoners. The default spells for this trick are programmed image and permanent image. Programmed image allows the trapsmith to lay illusions that come to life when triggered and is preferable when imitating living bait while permanent image is better when the trapsmith can control the image or when quiet and motionless bait is all that’s required.

Filcher’s Fiend (CR +0)

The adventurer’s tendency to pry priceless gems from their original settings in walls and statues is one that can be taken advantage of by a good trapsmith. By attaching the gem to the trigger of the trap (usually a spray of burning material or a flood that drowns would be robbers), the trapsmith creates what appears to be a harmless decoration that attracts would be thieves into a deadly surprise.

Scholars Folly (CR +1)

One of the oldest and easiest ways for dungeon keepers to murder the curious is to attach any variety of symbol spells, explosive runes, poison darts, contact poisons, or offensive spell traps to books, scrolls, and letters. Paranoid spell casters have been known to build entire false libraries full of deadly literature to protect their hoarded knowledge.

Hedge Wizard’s Bane (CR +0)

A single detect magic is enough to ruin the surprise of many a magical trap. However, this spell only tells the caster the school of the magic being used. When combined with information indicating a positive magical benefit, this spell can actually work to the benefit of a knowledgeable trapsmith. Simply hinting that the magical aura present before the characters is a free buff zone will be enough to make the least cautious of the group stumble blindly into the trap with open arms.

More surreptitiously, magic aura can be used to directly alter the information adventurers might receive.

Gelatinous Rube (CR 3)

The gelatinous cube has always relied on the foolish to fill its nutritional needs. Dungeon keepers with the power to control and corral these creatures will place them into an area and throw tantalizing treasure into the creatures. Truly devious ooze lords have been known to add materials or breed for tempting aromas and, in at least one case, a delicious flavor. (Adventurers still gather around campfires and tell terrible tales of the strawberry flavored gelatinous cube.)

(Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible)

    8 Comments

  1. “Simply hinting that the magical aura present before the characters is a free buff zone will be enough to make the least cautious of the group stumble blindly into the trap with open arms.”

    I like this article, but I have to say that I *don’t* like this particular sentence– using the metagaming jargon in the middle of the article is jarring and inappropriate. This could have been expressed even better by saying:

    “Simply hinting at a beneficial magical aura often encourages the least cautious of the group to stumble blindly and willingly into a trap.”

    Using terms like “buff” just encourages their use in text. It’s fine for tabletalk, but it detracts from an otherwise great article.

    -Ben.

    Ben.

    February 9, 2010

  2. This is a great article!

    Though I’d like the last one more if I could find a spell book that had “Otto’s Gelatinous Cube Transformation to Edible Gel” spell in it.

    Gabriel

    February 9, 2010

  3. the last one reminds me of when I used an assassin against my players. He invited them into a dinning hall and offered flagons of wine to them. the wine was actually slime based creatures. they tested for poison and didnt detect any and only one of them drank it. it was a mess trying to describe the horrific way he was to die as it consumed him from the inside….lol.

    jim

    February 9, 2010

  4. Oh I love this. The magic mouth one is particularly devious.

    Keith

    February 9, 2010

  5. Devious, simply devilish and delicious. As a GM these are simply lovely ideas to keep in my arsenal.

    Fenryx

    February 10, 2010

  6. @ben: I’ll keep that in mind. I tend to use terms like that as a quick and easy shortcut to get the point across and save on my wordcount. But you’re right and I’ll keep that in mind.

    @gabriel: IIRC the cherry flavored gelatinous cube was one of Gary Gygax’s more interesting inventions.

    Tark

    February 10, 2010

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