Tag Archives: traps

Trap Idea – Take One Thing and Expand on It

Take something simple, and think of all the ways this could be used, it could all be in the same dungeon, or series of dungeons/tombs. Perhaps all the tomb builders of a certain epoch used them.

I’m just now dipping my toes into Reddit and decided to build on a comment I made to a thread asking for trap ideas for a kobold infested dragon cave. [It’ll be at least 30 days before I can make my own subreddit. You can find me here.]

Have a giant rock or cube the shape of the corridor fill up the space.
It doesn’t have to kill. Use it to stop entrance or exit and otherwise direct the adventurers along the path most favorable to the kobolds.
Think of all the ways you can use a giant block of stone to impede and frustrate their efforts. Be sure to think in 3 dimensions.

Examples with a 10X10X10 dungeon corridor.

  • The block that falls can’t be pushed or pulled as it is a tight fit and there is a slight lip in the floor around its base.
  • The block falls just in front to make them turn back or aside at an intersection.
  • The block falls after they enter a room and exit on opposite wall has one that will fall before they can leave the room.
    • There can be no exit and the party waits for rescue or attack, or figures a way out.
    • There can appear to be no exit, but there is a secret door or trap door in the flor/ceiling.
    • The room is water tight or mostly water tight. Maybe there is a secret drain that opens up when the room is full and the occupants are passed out.
    • The room is airtight and the party passes out 1d6 rounds after the torches go out.
      • If no fire-based light and they have magic light, perhaps it lasts several hours or days before they pass out. It all depends on the size of the room.
    • The cliche walls/floors/ceilings of spikes close in.
      • Have it stop a few feet from the players independent of their efforts to stop it and the floor drops out from under them.
      • How can you make that fun & different?
        • Hallucinogenic poison makes them think they can see through or walk through walls….
        • Instead of filling with water or sewage, fill it with snow, ice cubes, or gold (molten if you’re mean.).
  • Have a giant stone fall so fast that the party doesn’t see the person in the lead simultaneously fall through a trap door. The person appears to have been squished into paste. If it’s an NPC, you can have them show up in a totally unexpected place. If a player, they will have to play along, depending on how strongly you want a big reveal that they aren’t dead.
    • Related to this have a cloud of dust roil as the person who sprung a trap falls through a trap door so fast it looks like they disappeared. All that is left is a pile of dust on the floor. You know, like they were disintegrated.
  • Spring a trap door and a stone block falls:
    • It can crush those below it, or have enough of a lip to seal the pit.
    • The pit could be a container that is replaced by a block, i.e. slid aside, before the stone falls. Those looking down will see those in the pit slide away. think fast and step back….
  • Have ways the kobolds can easily move blocks out of the way, and players will come back around and the stones are gone….
    • Sliding walls can receive the block that is pushed across the hallway and an elevator contraption reloads the trap.
    • Other creative mechanisms. They don’t all have to be automated.
      • They could require kobolds or their prisoners to use a “hamster wheel” like used for ancient & medieval cranes.
      • It could require ropes and pullies and work gangs of kobolds to reset.
  • A stone block actually is a secret room but the players have to find it in the portion facing them.
    • The secret door could lead to the passage on the other side.
    • The secret door could lead to the room to the side of the block. The block could be two blocks wide with a portion of the wall part of the enormous Tetris-like block.
      • If not an extra big block in a Tetris-like shape, don’t the person who finds and opens the secret door…
  • Add in trap doors in the ceiling and floor for kobolds to drop down on the part or come up behind them, or to have cover/concealment for firing at the party.
  • Add in sliding walls to open firing platforms or direct players trough a maze. They can be automated when they step on a trigger or require the kobolds to have enough of them to keep up with the party’s advance.
  • You can even throw in a gelatinous cube being dropped from the ceiling…. They’re 10′ cubes, at least in the versions I play.
    • There could be a nesting ground of them above the dungeon level and when ceilings open up under their weight, they fall.
      • Or the dungeon designers seeded them and have triggers to let them drop at the right time and place.
    • Use sliding floors to reveal a 10′ cube pit with a gelatinous cube in it. Remember its pseudopods can draw in food.
    • Have a couple that are particularly full of treasure  and well back-lit to help overcome the party’s reluctance to fight it.
    • Drop cubes at opposite ends of corridors when the party is at halfway, and stone block drop behind the gelatinous cubes.
    • Swap out any other kind of slime, mold, or jelly.
  • In addition to all of the above, the blocks and such can be used to direct wandering monsters, whether intelligent or not, into the party. Why should the kobold fight when the big nasties they found in here can do it for them?
  • Swap stone for ice, have a wall of ice spell go off in the right shape. Remember in AD&D a falling wall of ice is like an ice storm….
    • Swap stone for anything else you can think of.
  • Use round stones, a la Indiana Jones.
    • Pick other fun shapes to make the trap stand out and either be a time waster for the party to puzzle over, or really be a puzzle.

In the above examples, determine if the kobolds (or other intelligent monster) found these existing traps and embraced them, or if they are of their own construction. Or are the kobolds maintaining what they found, but “not up to code?”

For comic relief, roll for a chance for the kobolds to pull the wrong lever at the wrong time revealing their rope-powered winches and pullies. Roll for surprise to see if the Kobolds can recover before they are noticed. Except for the noise behind the party….

I started with a stone block and added in pits, moving walls, floors, and ceilings, and so forth. In the same way, start with something simple and look at it just a bit differently.

  • What can you do with it that you or a player wouldn’t expect?
  • What can you do with it with and without magic? (Technology for other genres.)
  • Find one of your child’s or grandchild’s toys or other household item.  What can you do with that?
  • Pay attention to the things you see at the big box stores or hardware store.
  • What overheard conversation from public places sparks an idea?

Don’t limit yourself to traps. You can do this with secret doors, hidden compartments, etc.

If you grab onto one of these ideas of taking one thing and going with it, you can end up with ideas coming so fast that you can’t keep up with them. Embrace those moments. Make notes, organize them, make tables and charts to help generate more ideas. (There’s another series of articles for the blog in all this too!)