Many expect traps to be hidden in lost treasuries, but traps can be set (and should be set) outside, too! Besides trapping animals, there is always a need to restrict access, capture, or downright kill intruders. Fortresses as military camps, even simple gardens can hide ugly surprises. It is always better if they don’t get into your home, than to deal with them inside.
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Additional Ideas (19)
The unwitting players are travelling through a swampy forest, but unknown to them, it is owned by a vicious swamp tribe. They have set up a huge net of hemp above the characters heads. The characters have been stepping on snapping twigs. Every time a twig snaps, the string connected to it also breaks. When enough strings snap, the net falls, dropping huge clouds of poisonous toads upon them. If the players somehow survive the deadly tree-toad poison, the smell of the toad-flesh attracts the swamp's vicious Trogodons (Alligator-Centaurs).
This is more of an ambush situation than a true trap: a large stone is set in the center of the road. This is an obvious new addition (tracks & ruts lead right up to it), and it may not have been there the last time the troupe passed that road. The stone is large enough for a person (or several) to hide behind, and fills the lane, so that you must go off the road around it, climb over it, or somehow remove it.
The stone is just to delay and distract, it need not even be an acutal rock, just a clever imitation. The real trap is the brigands hiding under camouflage just off of the road. While the group is discussing their options, the brigands can attack. Anyone climbing the rock is easy prey, and anyone leaving the road to go around will be close enough to be grabbed from cover.
A hole in the ground camouflaged with twigs and grass. At the bottom is a jar with sweet honey.
The hole is small and the walls are filled with spiked twigs(Imagine an Iron Maiden). The spikes are not lethal, just positioned to hold the victim down. If the unfortunate tries to get up the spikes penetrate deeper into his flesh.
The blood mixed with the scent from the jar of honey the victim just broke by falling in the trap attracts ants. Not big monster ants, just ants.
The ants go for nostrils, ears, eyes and mouth first and work their way down.
It can take days before the unfortunate dies. But he/she will pass out or go into shock plenty of times before death.
Okay this is one for a higher magic world, and would probably only be used to stop a large amount of troops from getting somewhere. But an old battlefield, the outside of a beseiged city.
It's a thin clay bowl enchanted to cause an explosion/fireball to happen when it's broken. You flip it upside-down and bury it so that it's about half an inch under the ground. When someone steps on it they tend to break it open, causing the explosion/fireball. When you have a group of people walking rank and file you'll end up taking a few more people out than just the guy who stepped on the mine.
You know 'um, you love 'um. These are shapened stakes that stick out of the ground. Put in at the bottom of a pit-trap, covered with foliage, put in in a marshy area, or put where an enemy will dive for cover when you ambush them. These are often coated in feces, urine, poison, or other handily available contaminates to increase the odds that the wound would become septic and need amputation.
Trou de loup
Allong the same lines, this was used as early the Gallic Wars (Julius Caesar). It is a conical pit dug into the ground about 2 m (6 feet)deep and 1.2 to 2 m (4 to 6 feet)wide at the top with a stake hammered in the ground at the bottom.
Trous de loup might be found singly as a trap (in which case they were always concealed), or in a dense pattern with no gaps between pits, used as an obstacle in front of a defended position.
A field of trous de loup could be made most effective if subsequently flooded to a shallow depth, which would conceal the pits, make their sides slippery, and add the risk of drowning.
Cheval de Frise
A Mediaeval defensive obstacle consisting of a portable frame (sometimes just a simple log) covered with many long iron or wooden spikes or even actual spears. They were principally intended as an anti-cavalry obstacle but could also be moved quickly to help block a breach in another barrier.
A term in field fortification for an obstacle formed of the branches of trees laid in a row, with the tops directed towards the enemy and interlaced or tied with wire. The abatis is used alone or in combination with wire entanglements and other obstacles.
All Hail Wikipedia!
These trees are great for creating outdoor, seemingly natural, walls. By defining boundries with them, you can funnel people down the path to where you want them.
All it takes is a simple trap that can be avoided by running away. It could be a small rock slide or a slow/ stationary monster. Given the terrain or a line of Quanquen trees, they will run into a grove of Broad Oaks. Then there will be tripping and fumbling and entanglement. Once held up, the trapped people will be easiser game for an ambush attack from hidden blinds.
You can do the same thing with Scarlett Call.
Any critter can do. These gifts are spread on a trail. This will allow you to track the invaders more easily.
Many small holes are dug in lines on each side of a road or path, which are then filled with venomous critters of your choice and covered with rocks. Each rock is tied to the corresponding rock on the other side of the path with thin line, which is then concealed with dirt, leaves, etc.
The victim hits the series of triplines and at best is surrounded by very annoyed poisonous creatures when the rocks are pulled off the holes, and at worst finds themselves tripped and lying on the ground amidst them.
The good old pit trap is covered with a net, masked with foliage. If it is stepped/fallen on, it will open the small pits that release those critters. This way, you would wound yourself in the pit (spikes optional), entangle in the net and be surrounded by poisonous creatures.
When dealing with the outdoors and the like, always remember that the simpler and faster it can be assembled, the better off you are.
While "cliche", the simple loop-snare, the swinging pendulum-log trap, the caltrop, these are things that are used because they can be assembled or laid quickly and easily, while still being effective.
Other simple traps: Taint the forageables - Poison the low-hanging fruit, throw a rotting corpse in the stream up water. Splash potential campsites with predator roe. If you're lucky, you can get a bear to eat the other guys, or scare their horses, etc.
Against a pursuing, mounted party: Draw a wire across the road at chest level, get them into a gallop. If you have time, dig a field of shallow holes, six inches to ten inches deep. Take the divots, knock them down to an inch thick, cover the hole over. Not lethal, but a runner or a horse will break ankles, no problem.
Mines don't need magic, just gunpowder and a pressure released spark. Ye olde Swinging Pendulum trap can be adapted to a fragmentation grenade - The pendulum is a wooden case packed with gun powder and a flint and tinder designed to spark and light a fast burning fuse when the pendulum is released. Swing - boom. Similar trap for a phial of Alchemist's fire or acid if you prefer your pain liquid and burny.
Poison does not need to be liquid - If you have tripwire ignition, you can set off choking or toxic smoke. Drop a man in a hole, put a trip-rope across the middle of it, start a fire in a neighboring chamber that fills the pit with the smoke of burning horse dung, or whatever-have-you. Marijuana / Hallucinogenic Mushroom trap, anyone? The lower the tech/magic level of the ignition, the more likely the dud, but let's face it, starting a fire equal to a match on a trigger is generally not the stuff of nigh-omnipotent wizards. Once you have fire on command, you have nearly everything in a modern arsenal.
Between two large trees a trip wire is subtly strung; tripping this wire will cause a large log with metal or sharpened wooden spikes protruding from it to make contact with anyone dumb enough to walk between the unsuspecting looking trees.
Tripwire trap 2:
Similar to trap one, in that it's a tripwire trap --ideally strung between two large trees, but this one is far more versatile and the victim doesn't even need to know he's set off a trap depending upon it's setup. Tripping the wire on this trap will cause a set of hanging tin-cans to rattle above the victim's head with the result of alerting whomever might be in the area. Alternatively a set of tin cans might rattle elsewhere --a guards post for example-- alerting merely those who need to be alerted that someone is lurking about.
This pit trap is very difficult to detect, as it is not dug in the traditional manner. Rather than being dug from above, it is dug from below. Subterranian dwellers dig the pit upward to the bottom of the surface roots, leaving only the vegitation and the bare minimum soil to hold it in place. When someone steps on this trap, they may fall through to spikes, a deep pit (which the tunnellers can easily drop into and climb out of), or simply drop into den of the hungrily awaiting diggers--ready with forks & napkins.
This appears to be a rather clumsy attempt at setting a simple snare along a trail. It consists of a tree bent over with a rope connecting the top of the tree to the ground. Typically used to trap rabbits, this looks almost large enough to trap a person, and the noose portion is too large to step over. However, the real trap is the pits laid on either side of the trail, to trap those that walk around the 'trap', as the snare itself is staked securely. This can be combined with the reverse pit trap above.
There are cemented steps along this maze garden's path, one walkway goes into an antechamber with a square path and in the middle an assortment of flowers or plants.. All the sides of the garden are surrounded by tall hedges that you cannot see through.
First, you replace one of the cement steps with a similar one.. but with a pressure trigger and a string attached at the bottom, the other end of the string tied to a loaded crossbow's trigger. The crossbow would be hidden in the opposing hedge wall(inside the antechamber) pointing towards the single hallway. When the string is pulled by the pressure trigger the victim stepping on it gets shot by a crossbow bolt!
Of course, you could apply a posion to the bolt for more devastating affects.. or just move in for the kill on the shocked victim.
Originally used to combat poachers, this trap consists of a blunderbuss (or crossbow, if you want to stay in period) on a swivel with several triplines. When tripped, the weapon will swing in line with the activated tripwire and fire down it.
Reading a little introduction to quicksand, it is not quite the danger as advertised in movies - simply do not move too much, and spread your body to increase the surface area, so you should float on a safe level.
But nobody says that patches of it could not be created, and used for slowing down enemies, freak them out, or, best of all, to use for an ambush.
The PCs discover a large white ball in the branches of a tree, or in a niche in a cave. Unless magically examined, or by a PC with a specialty in insects, it is a plain, smooth white ball. After a short time, it hatches and releases hundreds of spiders, cockroaches, or some other nasty bug.
Obiously, pretty much any of them is suited to be featured here - so have a good look at those Appendices if you are looking for related material.