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April 29, 2006, 5:50 am

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Cheka Man

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How A Trap Should Really Be Put Into An Adventure

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Traps need to make sense. Somebody must of made it for a specific purpose.

Please note that NONE of these things were created by myself. I only repost something from dead webpage. Credits go to their true creators.

How A Trap Should Really Be Put Into An Adventure
by Lloyd Majeau

Traps are supposed to be deadly and incredibly mean. Traps weren’t designed to be playthings, they were designed to kill. Just because a trap is supposed to be deadly, does not mean that it will have unlimited resources dumped into it. Cheap traps can be as effective as expensive traps. Here are some tips to consider when making new traps. Following the tips are some cheap, deadly traps.

The first thing to consider when designing a trap is, “Why does it exist?” Why would someone want to design this trap? The ‘Gold Null Magic’ room for example. This is the one with the glowing 5 lb. thing, the thick stone slab, the magical runes and the thin gold walls that the characters can beat through. Now ask yourself one question, Why was this room created? It is entirely made of gold so it must have cost a pretty penny, it is a one time event (considering the characters beat their way through the wall), and you can escape so simply! If any intelligent person spent so much money on a gold room, I think they would have made sure it did the job in killing the fools who walked into it.

Another thing you need to think of is, “How was the trap made?” Now there are multiple traps in there that would have taken years of work and toil to make. Like digging a 1/2 mile through earth (Chutes and Wedgies), or keeping any number of creatures alive while they are involved in the trap (any number of the traps had something with a monster chained to the wall. Doesn’t it need to eat?). Even that one trap with the rings of spell turning on the walls (don’t those rings have charges?). Most of these things would have had to have been built by gods in order to work, and if they were made by gods, then why are they so easy to escape? When designing a trap, one must think like the person that would be building the trap. First, the person would probably try to make the trap fatal or inescapable. Why would someone want to build a trap that can even POSSIBLY be escaped from the inside? It is pointless (now at this point, you’re probably saying so that it will save the PC’s lives. But now think to yourself on the intelligence of PCs: they usually head right into danger without a thought. Well, if they do that, then kill or imprison them). So, I worked up the following list of things that the trap builder would have to consider…

  * Is it easily escapable? If it is, what’s the point?
  * Is it fatal? If it isn’t, what’s the point?
  * Is it publicly accessible? If it is open to the public, any local Joe can trigger it, maybe even a loved one of the uilder. Traps only belong in an area where it is culturally taboo, publicly known (and therefore a trap to outsiders), or strictly private (in one’s private study would be nice because he would know about it, but no one else and no one else is allowed in there).
  * Are the materials required cheap or expensive? Available or not? Again, the gold room. How much did that thing cost? And availability, how much water is there in a desert? Very little, and what is, is greatly valued, so having some water weird trap in the only water hole for miles is stupid. 
  * Is it easily visible? An open pit. Hmm, I’ll walk onto it (although visibility is perfect for reverse psychology, and even reverse-reverse psychology).
  * Is it believable? Try to follow the laws of physics, or at least the most basic principles since magic warps the laws of physics. Shooting an arrow into a teleporter that teleports the arrow behind the archer won’t work because the arrow will still fall while it is in motion.
  * If an animal is involved, is it maintained? The many ‘chained to the wall’ monsters for example. Who feeds the beast? Why is it still alive if no one is in the dungeon to feed it?
The point? Think something through before using it. Now, my examples of traps to make adventures fun or educational.

(The examples were, along with other traps moved into the Small List of Traps)



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Comments ( 10 )
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Voted MoonHunter
November 4, 2005, 14:29
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It is a good piece. Short, but a good piece as far as it goes
Voted Pariah
November 4, 2005, 15:24
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Good, one thing I'd like to add though is that accidents/natural events can make just as good traps as anything else. And, if the dungeon hasn't been used by anything sentient for ages, then it's almost more likely to have these than an untriggered single-use trap. Methane leaking up though chinks in the walls/floor, a item that is magically electrical falling in a puddle, would both cause a very big boom if the PCs walk in there holding tourches. If it is known that magic enchantments will fade away over he years have a sourceror cast a "half-faded" illusion of a pit over the pit, and under that one have a good illusion of a solid floor. The more ingenious you are, the more realistic the trap becomes, the more the PCs will hate your deviousness, the more they'll understand why not every two-bit punk in the world isn't crawling around these dungeons themselves.
Voted AgentTwiggy
November 5, 2005, 11:28
0xp
Well-written, and very useful... I like very much. It's great fun thinking up reasons for traps to be there and so on, and they also make the traps that bit more unusual and memorable (if the PCs survive) than a "covered pit with monster" trap. :)
Voted Cheka Man
November 6, 2005, 18:01
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Now this is very good advice.Traps in places like tombs will normally be of the deadly kind so they should be very hard to escape from.
Voted Zylithan
November 8, 2005, 14:34
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Brings up some good points about traps. The lethal issue can be hairy - I mean, you don't want PCs to die left and right from traps, but why have a non-lethal trap? Well, certain things (like shrieking fungi?) could be used to warn inhabitants, while other traps could disable (turn to stone, paralyze indefinitely, etc.) intruders.
manfred
April 29, 2006, 5:50
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Updated: Added link to where the mentioned examples of traps are stored.
Murometz
July 8, 2006, 12:19
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BUMP, for Dungeon Quest referrence :D
Voted valadaar
December 8, 2006, 13:48
0xp
This is a good post which can use a bump.

Now, the question of lethal vs non-lethal traps can be addressed partly by the fact in systems where the average PC is much tougher then the average person.

Now, for systems where PCs and other people are pretty much on the same level for damage resistence, then this is a serious point.
Voted Michael Jotne Slayer
March 12, 2009, 15:39
0xp
BUMP! One of those that you have read a few times before but always seem to escape your vote. Worthwhile!
Voted Nafar
May 31, 2010, 8:52
0xp
finally my kind of post!

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       By: Priv8eye

A group that wished to be 'ever-living' instead was cursed with 'never-dying'. Thier flesh rotted and fell fromthier bones but still they lived on. Now as skeletons they continue thier quest to remove thier curse. As skeletons they differ in that they do not need controlled or summoned. They are fully fledged NPCs with drives or ideas of thier own. Stabbing and slashing weapons would not affect them.

Ideas  ( NPCs ) | April 28, 2005 | View | UpVote 1xp


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