Step one is finding the trap. We’re going to assume that you have either done that or at least suspect the presence of a trap—otherwise you’d be dead and not reading this advice. So let’s just skip past that part and assume you think you know there is danger ahead, and we can focus on […]
So how do you convince PCs to follow specific paths in your dungeon or during an encounter or to bunch closely for those few big spells or for an ambush by making the characters think there is a trap when there isn’t? In particular, how can your monsters create the appearance of a trap quickly
So instead, what if we look at traps that move the victim instead of trying to keep them in the same place. It’s a lot harder to predict where you don’t want to be if the danger itself, or the victim, are on the move. There is also something inherently more exciting—and often more comedic
Incremental traps are reminiscent of the death traps from horror movies or superhero comics, where each logical avenue of escape adds another dangerous obstacle to be conquered. Like a normal complex trap, they get worse with time, but unlike most other complex traps, their dangers are not obvious and often act in response to characters’
Pits with Friends Simple Trap (level 1–4, dangerous threat) This 10-foot-deep pit is covered in branches and dirt, making it appear the same as the rest of the ground. The branches are embedded in the dirt sides of the pit, such that when they fall away, so does a significant amount of the support for
Below are three traps that include apparent solutions or bypasses to the trap that exist only to eat up adventurers’ valuable time and resources while hopefully keeping them in danger without their realizing it. Good Timing Complex trap (level 5–10, moderate threat) Passing through a doorway, the room explodes in fire and continues to do
One way to handle this problem is to vary the ways in which your traps are detected, such as using traps that are obvious or using natural hazards. This adds variety, allows the optimized PC to occasionally be surprised, and allows a trap that can be located by multiple skills to involve other characters in
Ice Fall Complex trap (level 5–10, deadly threat) At the heart of a temple devoted to a winter deity lies a hard-to-access shrine. After passing over a bridge of ice that crosses a ravine so deep that the bottom cannot be seen, explorers come to a set of massive double doors cast with the deity’s
Knockout Cane Simple trap (level 1–4, deadly threat) The knockout cane packages a nonlethal punch into an elegant package. The cane has a jade-inlaid pommel shaped like the head of a green dragon. A successful DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check is needed to discover that it is in fact a cleverly hidden rapier sword cane.
In a previous post, I brought up focusing your traps with purpose and mentioned nonlethal traps. These types of traps are often overlooked when designing adventures, but they are equally valuable. Nonlethal traps alert guards to the presence of intruders, scare off dangerous animals, capture valuable prisoners, or hobble fleeing prey.
What is the philosophy of traps in your game? Answering this question helps you design the types of traps that you and your players want to see. Those looking for fun puzzles will have a quite different experience from a game that incorporates traps into encounters to create dynamic combats. I recently ran an adventure
Been thinking a lot about the Exploration pillar in 5th Edition lately—and traps in particular. When you are adding combat scenarios to your game, it’s easy to understand why they’re there: bandits want to steal from the characters, demons want to spread chaos, and for beasts, they just want to defend their lairs. Similarly, it’s
The Empty Shelf Setting the heavy tome in place, Mira thought to herself, “These sages need to get out more. I am bored just looking at these books. I would rather eat sawdust than read them. They are probably drier…” Indeed, the bookshelves mask the seams in the pivoting section of wall ahead, but the
The Diviner’s Judgement Facing one way and then the other, Mira finally turned back toward the doorway. Reaching out to the double doors blocking her way, she made her choice… The 10-ft.-wide corridor turns the corner and comes to an end fifteen feet ahead. A sturdy double door bisects the plain stone wall. Both panels
Courage Triumphant Mira raised a weary and trembling arm, blackened with corruption, and grasped the door pull. “Hopefully, I’ve gotten this right,” she muttered as she pulled with all her remaining strength… Three doors block the way, a blackened iron pull on each. The three pieces of hardware are fashioned as grotesques—the ring pull dangling
Seasons of Love Mira spat with frustration. It seemed a shame to leave some of the best pieces behind, but as the verse hinted, there is always some loss in the search for love… A rosewood box on a recessed shelf awaits across from the entrance to this 15-ft.-by-20-ft. chamber. The walls and 20-ft.-high vaulted