Ultimately, a traps’ function is one of protection. Many things deserve protection; it all depends on the perspective of the traps’ buyer. The altar and its various ceremonial and sacred items are cherished by clerics, and thus they often build the hand of god trap in their temples.
Hand of God Trap
“From the temples’ ceiling, statues depicting the faiths’ saints watch your progress as they clutch their deity’s favored weapon.”
A DC 20 Profession (artist) or Perform check reveals that the statues, while aesthetically pleasing, are slightly too large to fit the scene. A DC 23 Knowledge (religion) check reveals that the statues of the saints all bear symbols of protection.
A cleverly hidden panel at the temple’s pulpit (Search DC 25) arms the trap whenever the chief cleric deems it necessary. When the trap is armed, it attacks anyone entering a 10 by 10 feet area in the temple; this spot is often called the Thieves’ Square by the priests. The traps shoots a large harpoon trailing a thick steel chain; this chain is connected to one of the ceiling statues.
If the harpoon hits it deals 2d8 piercing damage, and it immediately begins to tug upwards. The target must succeed on a DC 15 Strength check or immediately be lifted 10 feet towards the temples’ ceiling.
Removing the Lifting Harpoon
If the target makes the Strength check, he may attempt a followup DC 13 Fortitude check. Failing the Fortitude check leaves the target nauseated for 1d3 rounds, while success means he overcomes the pain and removes the barbed harpoon (its barbs inflict 2d8 piercing damage as it is removed).
As an alternative, the target may chop at the chain attached to the harpoon. The chain has hardness 10 and 30 hp. If the target is not lifted into the air, the trap resets and can shoot again in the next round.
Dragged Up to Heaven
Once the target is in the air, the trap yanks the target up 10 feet each round. This deals 2d6 piercing damage to the harpooned target as its barbs tear at the target’s innards. Once the target reaches the statue, the harpoon is violently extracted from the target. This extraction deals 2d8 damage; if the target fails a DC 16 Fortitude save he is also nauseated for 1d3 rounds.
After the harpoon is yanked out, the target must make a DC 15 Reflex save to grab the statue, or else become a victim of gravity and fall to the temple floor. The returning harpoon automatically resets the trap.
If the initial harpoon attack misses, the trap resets itself in 2 rounds, the time it takes to retrieve the harpoon.
The hand of god trap has many variants; the variant described here assumes that the ceiling of the temple is 40 feet above the floor.
Hand of God Trap
CR 4; mechanical; proximity trigger; hidden switch bypass (Search DC 25); automatic reset; multiple traps (harpoon trap, lifting trap, extraction trap, fall); Atk +19 ranged (2d8, harpoon); lifted upwards (2d6 per 10 feet lifted, ceiling is 40 feet high); harpoon extraction (2d8 plus DC 16 Fortitude save or nauseated for 1d3 rounds); DC 15 Reflex save avoids, 40 feet fall (4d6 falling damage); Search DC 24; Disable Device DC 24. Market Price: 25,000 gp.
The statue that hides the trap has hardness 8 and 40 hp. Destroying the statue disables the trap.
Design Notes on the Hand of God Trap
The Hand of God trap is a series of related traps with CR 2 (harpoon), CR 1 (lifting), CR 1 (extraction of the harpoon) and CR 1 (40 feet fall). I have given it a flat CR 4 rating to simplify things.
A Deadlier Hand of God Trap
Turning the harpoon into a magical weapon with the frost, flame, or holy quality can increase the CR by 1 or more. A higher ceiling results in more damage dealt both while lifting the target upwards and also increases the falling distance. Each 20 foot increase in the ceiling height increases the CR by 1.
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