RPG Adventures and design guides for tabletop gamers

Trapsmith: The Bite of Steel

Posted In Articles, Front Page, Traps | 5 comments

peasant and scytheTrapsmiths constantly obsess about dismemberment and decapitation, always imagining better ways to cut into the flesh of interlopers. Two standard designs are the scything blade and wall blade trap.

Scything Blade Trap (CR 1)

Type mechanical; Search DC 21; Disable Device DC 20
Trigger location; Reset automatic
Effect atk +8 melee (1d8/×3)
Market Price 1,700 gp…

Wall Blade Trap (CR 1)

Type mechanical; Search DC 22; Disable Device DC 22
Trigger touch; Reset automatic; Bypass hidden switch (Search DC 25)
Effect atk +10 melee (2d4/×4)
Market Price 2,500 gp

The main drawback of the scything blade trap is that the blade used is not a scythe. It also lacks effectiveness; a +8 attack bonus is rather weak. A good point of the trap is that only those with the trapfinding ability can find it.

The wall blade trap does feature a scythe and is designed to be placed in areas where access is restricted but not forbidden. It is also very well hidden; only an experienced or very careful rogue has a chance to spot it.

Dancing Scimitar Trap (CR 1)

Type mechanical; Search DC 22; Disable Device DC 18
Trigger location; Reset automatic
Effect atk +5 melee (1d8/18-20); multiple targets (1d3 attacks on each target in 3 adjacent 5-ft. squares)
Market Price 1,200 gp

Once triggered, the scimitar launches into a deadly slashing routine, targeting multiple foes.

By increasing the number of attacks and sacrificing some effectiveness, we should see more hits on a single target, slightly increasing the lethality and saving 500 gp.

Mounted Blade Trap (CR 1)

Type mechanical; Search DC 15; Disable Device DC 29
Trigger touch; Reset automatic; hidden switch bypass (Search DC 25)
Effect atk +14 melee (2d4+4/×4)
Market Price 3,800 gp

Typically used to ward restricted areas, these traps are barely hidden. They present a clear warning to intruders: leave. Meddling with the trap usually results in its activation, with potentially deadly results.

Design Notes

The bypass indicates that the trap’s owner wants to access the area. If that is true, then the trap becomes more of a guardian and less of a hazard. Guardians need to be seen to deter intrusion, this is a good reason to lower the Search DC, giving us a -1 CR modifier, which is used to make the trap very hard to disable. If triggered, the trap hits hard: it deals on average 9 damage.

(This post is Product Identity.)


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  1. Nice traps Maurice. :) Great for when the players try to attack the evil lord in his lair :) I see suits of various armor along the walls, holding the Mounted Blade Traps. An entire corridor of Suits of Armor between the players and the lords throne room or treasure room. which ones are trapped and which aren;t? >:) thanks Maurice.


    December 15, 2009

  2. Cool stuff! So full of slicing that there’s no blade left for a jump cut?


    December 15, 2009

  3. Nice. These are excellent blade traps.

    Wolfgang should collect all these great traps in a sourcebook. :)


    December 15, 2009

  4. Now THERE is an idea


    However, it is more likely that the monsters will get that treatment before the traps do.


    December 15, 2009

  5. I dunno, I actually think the traps might be easier to pull together, because almost all of them have a single author, the estimable Mr. De Mare.

    But we’ll see what the New Year brings.

    Kobold Quarterly

    December 15, 2009

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