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Trapsmith: The Well of Souls

Posted In Articles, Front Page, Traps | 9 comments

well of soulsThis is a well of souls, built by fell religions as a prison for their failures, heretics, or worse. A place where Good dies and is reduced to a form of currency. A well of souls is a place where many traps come together.

Four stairways lead down to a well of sorts. A greyish substance fills the well, its surface completely smooth. Four statues, each bearing faces twisted in horror, guard the stairways.

  • Knowledge (religion) (DC 25) determines that this is a well of souls.
  • Perception (DC 18) reveals that each statue bears an unholy symbol.
  • Perception (DC 20) lets the PCs hear the following whispered words seemingly emanating from the very statues: soon, very, time, and free.
  • Detect magic reveals three magical auras (necromancy): the statues and the 40-ft.-by-40-ft. area cornered by the statues bear two faint auras and the well bears a moderate aura.
  • See invisibility reveals four broken forms, each chained to a statue…

The Failed Four. Four failed acolytes stand petrified, their souls bound to their remains until they meet a quota of harvested souls. Eagerly, they await their next victims, ethereal whispers drifting from statue to statue. Each statue retains the ability to channel negative energy 7/day as a cleric.

Negative Energy Burst Trap (CR 2)

Type magic; Perception DC 26; Disable Device DC 26
Trigger visual (arcane eye); Reset automatic
Effect negative energy burst (2d6 damage, Will DC 13 halves); multiple targets (all targets in a 30-ft. radius)

As soon as a PC enters the area cordoned off by the statues the traps trigger, potentially catching the intruder with several bursts. On successive rounds, the statues act on initiative count 13. Attempts to disable the trap also trigger.

Defeating the failed four. Without their unholy symbols, the statues cannot channel negative energy. Removing an unholy symbol requires a Strength check (DC 15). Each statue has hardness 8 and 60 hp.

Death’s Pull Trap (CR 4)

Type magic; Perception DC 27; Disable Device DC 27
Trigger touch; Reset automatic
Effect spell effect (death knell, Will DC 13 negates); multiple targets (all targets in a 40-ft.-by-40-ft. area)

If the negative energy bursts unleashed by the four statues (or other effects) drops an intruder to -1 hp or less, the death’s pull trap triggers.

Failing the Will save, read aloud or paraphrase the following:

A misty form rises from the fallen, the well’s surface starts to churn and the misty form is drawn in. The temperature of the room drops noticeably, and your fallen friend rises again.

If the death’s pull trap is a success, each statue regains one use of their channel energy ability.

Rise of Evil Trap (CR 5)

Type magic; Perception DC 28; Disable Device DC 28
Trigger touch; Reset automatic
Effect spell effect (animate dead); multiple targets (all targets in a 40-ft.-by-40-ft. area)

All creatures that die in the area cornered by the statues animate as zombies.

A Torrent of Souls. If the well of souls is exposed to 20 cumulative damage from positive energy, the seal that keeps the souls in the well breaks. Read aloud or paraphrase the following:

The smooth grey surface of the well turns to black, and a hundred ethereal voices roar to celebrate their freedom. Dozens of misty forms exit the well, flying toward their final rest.

Torrent of Souls Trap (CR 5)

Peering into the well, you see faint faces swirl in the grey substance.

Type magic; Perception DC 30; Disable Device DC 30
Trigger special; Reset none
Effect fleeing souls (1d4 Wisdom and 1d4 Charisma damage, DC 18 Reflex avoids); multiple targets (all targets in a 60-ft. radius)

Reasons for visiting the well of souls

  • A friend set out to explore the site, but he or she never returned.
  • A wizard has promised you wealth if you can dip a specially prepared container in the well of souls for him.
  • A vampire has lured you there.
  • The family of one of the failed four has asked you to set their son free.

(This post is Product Identity.)


  1. This is wonderfully imaginative Maurice. I like the rising as zombies part the best. I’ll have to consider it for the City of Boliske.

    James Thomas

    March 23, 2010

  2. I’m surprised this hasn’t received more comments yet. It’s really evocative and creepy. I like it a lot!


    March 23, 2010

    • Edit: There was an html problem preventing IE8 users from leaving comments. This has been fixed.

      Scott Gable

      March 23, 2010

  3. It is super-creepy!

    I like it and will put it in the special DM binder that requires me to say “Bwaha ha!” whenever I open it….


    March 23, 2010

  4. Thank you for the comments.

    Are we talking Pett-level creepiness here? Because I consider Pett-level creepiness to be the gold standard of creepiness……although entry in the “ Bwahahaha” folder of doom sounds cool as well.


    March 24, 2010

  5. I would say on the Official Pett Scale of 1-6 this one is a 4. With a 1 being a dead body and a 6 being the manifestation of an evil demi-god’s avatar. It’s all circumstantial however. For example, shaking hands with Mr. Dory, 2 points. Shaking hands with Mr. Dory while standing in a pool of blood and gore, 3.5 points. Shaking hands with Mr. Dory after having been turned into a zombie by The Well of Souls, priceless!

    James Thomas

    March 24, 2010

  6. Mr Dory, ahhhh good times. My PCs had such a fun time in the Styes. Pett = goldstandard


    March 24, 2010

  7. Yep, I do believe the Pett scale of creepiness will need further examples and explication. Could make a great friday article for the site, actually.


    March 24, 2010

  8. A little late weighing in on this one, but I enjoyed this one a lot. Great work, Maurice!


    March 30, 2010

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