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Trapsmith: The Skull-On-A-Rope

Trapsmith: The Skull-On-A-Rope

GoblinsEvery good trapsmith knows about the three C’s: Cheap, Crude and Cruel. Every wise trapsmith knows that goblins excel at designing traps based on the three C’s and as a result, many retain the services of a goblin as a servant or assistant. Neighbors may complain, but consulting a goblin’s expertise is usually worthwhile, as goblins themselves are cheap, crude and cruel. They seem full of inventive ideas for maiming and mutilation, and seem to consider trapmaking an art akin to decorating tribal banners.

The skull-on-a-rope is a perfect example of this goblin philosophy. It is deadly but uses only materials scavenged from the remains of their enemies….

Skull-on-a-Rope Trap

To build this trap, sharp pieces of scavenged metal are jammed into the skulls of defeated enemies, allies and tribal members. Then the trapsmith attached a stout rope the prepared skulls and hauls a dozen or so up to their starting position. With that done, the skulls-on-a-rope are ready to swing down on their targets and wreak havoc.

Goblins use the skull-on-a-rope trap primarily in ambushess. The key fact is that while most races are stronger than goblins, most races are also taller than the average goblin. The skull-on-a-rope specifically targets Medium and taller creatures, leaving Small creatures untouched.

Brave or expendable goblins will try to draw their foes into the 10-ft square area where the trap can be triggered. A DC 22 Sense Motive check determines the intent of the goblins.

Skull-on-a-rope Trap             CR 1
Type mechanical; Perception DC 18; Disable Device DC 19
Trigger location; Reset repair
Effect 4d4 dmg, DC 14 Reflex save avoids; Multiple targets (all Medium or taller targets in a 10-ft. square)

Increasing the Deadliness
For goblins, putting filth upon the metal bits and parts is an easy and cost efficient method to increase the deadliness of the trap. The CR of the trap increases by one, if a hit exposes the targets to filth fever.

Filth Fever
Type disease, injury; Save Fortitude DC 12
Onset 1d3 days; Frequency 1/day
Effect 1d3 Dex damage and 1d3 Con damage; Cure 2 consecutive saves

Art is by Tarol Hunt of the Goblins Web comic, and is used by permission.

7 thoughts on “Trapsmith: The Skull-On-A-Rope”

  1. Ah… filth covered metal bits, for added flavor. =)

    Very fitting trap, that adds roleplaying depth to a session. =)

  2. It’s never the wound that kills you, it’s the infection of the wound that kills you.

    Dirt, the ultimate destroyer of adventurers.

  3. A decidedly nasty trap from Maurice yet again. I used a variant on this theme in an old 2nd Ed. adventure. Instead of a bunch of skulls however, the orcs in the adventure attached a bloated and rotting body to the rope and swung that down to hit the PCs instead. While the body-on-a-rope didn’t do much damage it did cause the rot grubs inside the body to burst free and land all over the PCs.

  4. Thanks Phil,

    I would like to thank Tarol for creating the image. I’ve always wanted to stat up the trap, and now it is.

  5. 4d4 seems like a lot of damage for a few rusty bits of metal.

    That said, cool. “The three Cs” is likely to become a lasting part of goblin culture in my game.

  6. Hydro,

    Pathfinder divides average damage by 10, previously this damage was diveded by 7. I had to take advantage from the new rules, and goblins are more interested in quantity than quality as the sheer number of skulls that swing down indicate.

    You could even up the damage to 2d12 and the CR would remain the same, deadliness would increase dramatically though, I’d advise against it.

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