D&D Ideas — Traps

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Hello! Each week in the Nerdarchy Newsletter, we send updates and announcements along with some ideas that didn’t make it into a video. Signing up for the newsletter gives you access to the Nerdarchy ringtone, instructions on how to get a chance to game with us, and makes you a 1st-level Nerdarchist. So that’s cool. For those who aren’t interested in the newsletter, but still curious about some of these off camera ideas, enjoy.

D&D traps Nord Games
When Nord Games says “Treacherous Traps” they ain’t kidding. This art from the successful Kickstarter illustrates how hazardous and unpredictable D&D traps can be.

Curse your sudden and inevitable traps!

Greetings fellow traveler of the internet,

This week we are drawing inspiration from the Treacherous Traps Kickstarter by Nerdarchy friend and sponsor Nord Games. The Kickstarter is in it’s final hours and crushing the stretch goals. You can check it out here.

From the Desk of Nerdarchist Dave

Traps have been a part of D&D for as long as I can remember. Need inspiration for traps? Just think to some of your favorite movies. Heck, maybe even some of your not-so-favorite movies.

While the D&D movie was quite the stinker that quicksand rug trap was bad ass.

The Indiana Jones franchise was rife with great traps. There is nothing quite as iconic as seeing the giant stone boulder rolling towards Dr. Jones.

The horror movie franchise Saw gives us trap after trap to adapt into our D&D games.

What about the Home Alone movies. Kevin devised all kinds of simple yet effective deterrents to the would-be burglars.

I now kind of want to run an adventure where goblins are trying to keep adventurers from invading their home or lair. They use nothing but hit and run tactics with makeshift traps and hazards used to fend of the murderhobo adventurers.

The Goonies is another movie from my childhood that had some great traps in it as well — organ trap, falling boulders and spiked pit (both classics), and the scale trap.

What about the laser trap from Resident Evil? We don’t have lasers, but what if we replaced them with guiding bolt? Not only that, the second part of the trap could activate or release a monster on the party. Everyone that just got hit by the guiding bolt would now have advantage against them on the next attack for that round. What if it was an ongoing trap? Every round while fighting, the party is getting targeted by guiding bolt until they can disarm the trap or move away from it.

From the Nerditor’s Desk

I see and hear from a lot of Dungeon Masters engaging with the community looking for insights on how to keep players interested in their D&D games. It’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking the bulk of a DM’s work goes on between sessions, plotting, planning and considering the possibilities of the game. Instead, you can take that trap and add it to your DM toolbox, where it’s ready to be the right tool for the right job at the right time.

Traps can be used in a variety of scenarios, and you don’t even need to come up with an intricate Rube Goldberg contraption to impress the players either. If you want to know where the best places to put traps are, pay attention to the party rogue.

Rogues love checking for traps. Every door, treasure chest and floor tile potentially conceals a deadly device, and rogues tend to be at least a little bit paranoid — enough to drive them to check for traps on the reg.

Reward your rogue’s curiosity and reinforce their healthy paranoia by throwing them a bone now and then, whether you planned for a trap or not. The next time the rogue says they’re going to check for traps, instead of scanning your notes to see if there is a trap or not, just go for it. Call for a roll and react accordingly.

On a great roll, congratulations! There is indeed a hidden mechanism. But are the rogue’s hands steady enough to safely disarm it? With bad results, they check carefully and feel confident there is no trap. Uh-oh, turns out there is and time for the barbarian’s Danger Sense to come in handy.

Traps don’t need to be complicated endeavors. A simple spring-loaded poison needed, false floor, or scythe blade creates a moment of tension. And if I know players, they’ll try to use the trap to their advantage in the future, too.

Considering traps as exploration hazards, they can help make an adventure location more thematic and unique. What if a wizard’s laboratory has a sort of “purge” feature that sterilizes a room with acid in the event of an emergency? Glyphs of warding on doors that repel unwanted visitors with thunderwave, or set with hold person in strategic spots of the villain’s inner sanctum will keep a party trapsmith busy while adding extra danger and dynamic elements to a quest. Disarming a trap in the middle of combat? Now there’s something to let the party rogue shine.

As a tool, traps can help define a lot about an adventure and reveal details about the creature who laid the trap. They indicate places considered important, and keep adventurers on their toes.

If you want to go deeper with your traps, there’s still some time left to check out Treacherous Traps for 5th Edition, a Kickstarter from Nord Games that looks like it can handle any trap need you’ll ever had, with some really great stretch goals already unlocked like puzzles, player options, secrets and more. (Link Here)

From the Desk of Nerdarchist Ted

Kobolds are nasty creatures.  Statistically they are not possessed of a great amount of intelligence, but it does not take a genius to be threatened repeatedly by creatures taller than your entire race to make traps that will only injure those over 4 feet tall. Whether you are designing a trap of a swinging log designed to hit those humans at chest level or blades that spring out from the walls at neck level they can be seriously dangerous for adventures. Looking at page 122 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide you can set the DC and damage at what you need them to be. The kobolds in the warren will obviously know of the trap and can safely engage in battle, possibly triggering the trap on purpose knowing they will be safe. Here two examples of these traps set for a low level party:

Fallen log trap (mechanical trap)

A log tied on two ends and painted the same color as the rock on a high ceiling is triggered by a tripwire. Notice DC 11. No disarm options but it could easily avoided. When triggered the log swings and those in the hallway are attacked with a +5 to hit. It does 1d10 bludgeoning damage and those hit must succeed on a DC 11 Strength save or be pushed 10 feet back and knocked prone.

Deadly blade attack (mechanical trap)

Hidden blades are embedded in the wall and are swung with incredible force at those in the hall when the pressure plate is stepped on. Notice DC 16, same DC to disarm. When triggered the rocks on the wall fall harmlessly to the ground as the blades swing out and attack at a height of 4 feet to up to 4 targets close to the plate. Attack +9 if it hits it does 4d10 slashing damage

One could be an annoyance while the other could prove quite deadly.

Until next time, stay nerdy

Nerdarchy Team

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