Author Archives: funtruefreefairgood

Happy Trap-a-birthday!


One year ago today, pfworks posted the very first trap on this site. (The first post was on June 7th, but it merely mentioned traps, making that just the contractions and the 8th the real birthday.)

*sniff* It brings a tear to my eye to think of all the tears we’ve brought to PCs’ eyes since then. We hope that you’ve likewise enjoyed our efforts.

As pfworks’s  occasional collaborator, I’ve gone from roughly 50-50 contribution in the early days, to stepping back and sticking my head in just for the April Fool’s Week, and watching in awe as pfworks pumps out a trap every day, 7 traps a week. I’m busy working on promoting gaming elsewhere, I haven’t gone away, and I stand ready if ever I’m needed – but I’m not. Ever.

This bloke is a death machine machine. I believe it is about time that he took a bow.

So kudos, pfworks, for starting this thing and for keeping it running. It has been hellaciously good fun working with you, even if for the last several months that has mostly meant reading your work.

And… I’ve made you a cake.

Happy birthday trap

It’s a cake with a candle on top. A delicious-looking cake. Whatever is most delicious to you. (I imagine it as a nice round bombe alaska for some reason.)

When you blow on the candle, the flame starts shooting out multicoloured sparks, like a miniature firework. It’s very pretty.

When you blow on it a second time, the entire candle ignites in rainbow flames, and the sparks shoot up even faster.

When you blow on it a third time, or even if you wait a round…

…well, let’s just say the cake won’t need any cutting.

As an old trap hand you may have snuffed the candle with your fingers and cut the cake, yes? Unfortunately, the volatile cake mixture ignites on contact with air, producing a cone of flame that detonates the whole cake a round later.

Unfortunately putting the cake down isn’t an option. Some joker has put a short-lasting temporary form of sovereign glue on the bottom of the plate. The recipe makes the base of the cake naturally incredibly sticky, so trying to shake the cake off doesn’t work, and trying to pull it off will breach the icing, detonating it as above.

However, if you can manage to create a vacuum around the cake and stick your head in to eat it, it’s absolutely delicious. Congratulations, and happy birthday! You deserve every crumb.

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April Fool’s Week – final trap: the trap gallery


A single day of devious trickery – er, that is to say, creative subversion of player assumptions – was never going to be enough for this blog. This week, a series of traps that will really mess with your players. Most are in fact so ridiculously rotten that their best use is to spring them, howl with laughter at the ensuing shrieks of outrage, and then retcon the traps out of existence once you’ve had your fun, lest your players mount an open revolt.

This trap bridges the more arbitrary, metagamey material of earlier in the week and our regular trap content. It takes place in a kobold warren, thieves’ guild, spy organisation’s base, or other suitable den of sneakiness.

The PCs’ goals require them to explore a section of the complex which is dedicated to showcasing traps. Laid out in a linear sequence are a series of rooms, and in each, the PCs find a different mechanical trap – all with clear instructions for how it works and how to bypass it printed on the door leading in, and all deactivated by some master switch. Careful examination of the traps indicates that they do indeed function as advertised, but are genuinely disarmed, and that the master switch for each trap is further into the complex – a cable in the walls and floor can be traced running further in, but it is on a hair trigger and interfering with it in any way will set off all the traps. (This cable should only be found through displays of truly extraordinary skill.) Further, once active, the traps can only be deactivated manually and individually – the override switch removes a series of chocks stopping the mechanisms from moving, but there’s no way to replace them all automatically.

Finally the PCs reach the end of the gauntlet of traps, and come across a door labelled “Trap Gallery Master Control Switch”. Opening the door reveals a room with periscopic (or magical) views into each trap chamber, and a big lever labelled “Trap Activation”. If the PCs are tracing the master control cable it does indeed lead directlyunder this door, and if the door is open they can see that it leads  towards the lever… but then loops around a pulley and heads back to the door frame.

The label “Trap Gallery Master Control Switch” is not saying what’s behind the door – it’s explaining that that the door is the Trap Gallery Master Control Switch – and opening the door causes all the traps to become active.

To get back out, the PCs will have to disarm all the traps they have just passed. The fact that the mechanisms include provision for a master override allows you to give them a small bonus on their rolls… and if they can successfully remember the instructions for how each trap worked, which were on the outside of the doors which are now at the opposite end of each room, you can give them a larger bonus. (This might be an occasion for the use of our upcoming supplement on memory in RPGs.)

We hope you’ve enjoyed our April Fool’s Week traps! Let us know in the comments.

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April Fool’s Week penultimate trap: The fake-out trap


A single day of devious trickery – er, that is to say, creative subversion of player assumptions – was never going to be enough for this blog. This week, a series of traps that will really mess with your players. Most are in fact so ridiculously rotten that their best use is to spring them, howl with laughter at the ensuing shrieks of outrage, and then retcon the traps out of existence once you’ve had your fun, lest your players mount an open revolt.

The fake-out trap

The PCs turn the corner and see a skeleton about thirty feet away, pinned to the wall by a spear. They also see several other broken spears on the ground nearby, all opposite a collection of fairly-well-concealed holes in the wall. As they look, they realise that the corridor ahead has these holes along a massive stretch of its length – just ducking through or long-jumping won’t save them, and doesn’t seem to have saved the skeleton, who is about ten feet into the trap.

Searching for the trap mechanism doesn’t reveal the trap… because there isn’t one. They’re just holes and spears.

Optionally, the last square of the corridor does include a genuine spear trap.

For extra pressure, ensure the PCs are being chased, with a lead of only 20 seconds or so.

Categories: April Fool's, Generic | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

April Fool’s Week ExTRAPaganza


Here is a special April Fool’s Week installment of exTRAPaganza, our Thursday over-the-top trap series. 

In the spirit of April Fool’s Week, here’s a string of pranks to pull on your players. If you can successfully get to the end before they start threatening to leave the table, let us know!

NB: As these are not expected to have any lasting consequences on the in-game reality, no stats will be provided – roll whatever dice produce the psychological effect you need at the time.

Trap 1

It starts with a door. A large door, wide as the whole room, that you have mentioned is an exit from the current room. What you haven’t mentioned is that the door is in the floor, not the wall, and when it is opened the party falls through to the next room.If the person who opened it tries to hang onto the handle, it falls out.

Trap 2

The floor is bare and there is only a single door in the room where they land. The door is electrified, its handle is razor-edged and coated in poison, and turning the handle also results in a spear trap shooting up into the squares adjacent to the door. The safest way out is to walk around the door, because the walls are illusions. (Alternatively, there are no walls at all; you told them there was only a single door here, after all.)

Trap 3

The next room has a trapdoor in the floor; be as subtle or obvious about the italics as you like. Beyond an archway is another room with a hatch in the floor. Opening the latch of either causes the floor to fall away while the hatch stays in place, Wile E. Coyote-style. The door contains several immovable rods, and the latch is allowing the door to take the weight of the floor; without the latch, the floor just falls.

Trap 4

The PCs are dumped into a stone room with a nice big rich-looking treasure chest. The chest is a mimic, the floor is a trapper (floor mimic), and the ceiling is a lurker above (ceiling mimic). The door is another mimic (they can do that), and on the other side of it is a near-impossible-to-spot gelatinous cube. An undead mime enacts “walking into the wind” on the other side of the cube.

Grand Finale

If you have reached this point successfully, congratulations! Begin to award loot for the defeat of the monsters and then say “suddenly it all goes wavy and your vision starts to fade… and you wake up next to Suzanne Pleshette”.

And if the “it was all just a dream” ending doesn’t have them hurling dice, congratulations! You have some seriously good-natured players.

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April Fool’s Week trap 4: Don’t touch that knob!


A single day of devious trickery – er, that is to say, creative subversion of player assumptions – was never going to be enough for this blog. This week, a series of traps that will really mess with your players. Most are in fact so ridiculously rotten that their best use is to spring them, howl with laughter at the ensuing shrieks of outrage, and then retcon the traps out of existence once you’ve had your fun, lest your players mount an open revolt.

Another trap in the “Well, if you wanted to know, you should have asked” school, this trap involves the PCs coming upon a door. After describing the door, you mention that there is a hole in the door where the handle should be. Somewhere nearby is a curiously ornate crystal knob on a stick; the stick looks like it would fit into the hole.

What you’re not mentioning is that the “stick” is several feet long; it is in fact a wizard’s staff. The wizard is present and invisible, and reacts to anyone trying to touch his staff by blasting them with lightning. (Alternatively the staff is intelligent and animated, with the same result.)

The staff genuinely is the key to the door – it’s just that it’s also a fully armed and operational wizard’s staff.

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April Fool’s Week trap 3: Chain Mail of the Guardian


A single day of devious trickery – er, that is to say, creative subversion of player assumptions – was never going to be enough for this blog. This week, a series of traps that will really mess with your players. Most are in fact so ridiculously rotten that their best use is to spring them, howl with laughter at the ensuing shrieks of outrage, and then retcon the traps out of existence once you’ve had your fun, lest your players mount an open revolt.

Chain Mail of the Guardian

The PCs have heard about this magical armor – and there it is in front of them: a suit of enchanted chain mail hangs from the ceiling just inside the legendary vault into which they have just broken. This armor is fabled throughout the realm; it renders the wearer almost impervious to weapons, but there is a ritual required to attune it that involves stepping into it where it hangs. It’s exactly what the PCs need to defeat some great threat.

Once it’s on, it’s definitely highly protective to the parts of the body it covers; it’s practically impossible to damage. And so are the chains that stretch from it to the floor and ceiling, which on closer inspection are part of the weave of the armor and can’t be detached, and so are the floor and ceiling… all of which prevents the wearer from moving more than ten feet away from where they first donned it.

Which would be fine – sort of – for someone guarding the room, or even if the PC had time to take it off… but they’re being attacked, or the room is flooding, and they don’t have that time.

If you’re feeling kind, and not wanting to use this trap for April Fool’s-type purposes, successfully surviving this trial is the last stage of attunement and the chains drop away. If you’re feeling less kind, the PC has to wait some time before they can discharge this part of the ritual, and their allies may have to lure other intruders into the room for them to defeat. If you’re feeling mean, the armor is intelligent, considers the other PCs as intruders, and attempts to force its wearer to attack the rest of the group. And if you’re feeling outright cruel, the chains never drop away; after all, the mail is intended for the guardian of the vault…

Ingenious PCs who think to use portable holes and such to allow their friends to wear the mail elsewhere could be allowed to do so, but closing such dimensional apertures on the chains always teleports the armor and its wearer back to the vault. The magic in the armor is a property of the vault, not the mail itself. Successfully severing the chains (through epic magic or perhaps something like a sphere of annihilation) causes the chain mail to unravel and the vault to grow a new set over a year.

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April Fool’s Week trap 2: The Right Knight


A single day of devious trickery – er, that is to say, creative subversion of player assumptions – was never going to be enough for this blog. This week, a series of traps that will really mess with your players. Most are in fact so ridiculously rotten that their best use is to spring them, howl with laughter at the ensuing shrieks of outrage, and then retcon the traps out of existence once you’ve had your fun, lest your players mount an open revolt.

The right knight

This trap requires a bit of setup. Previously in the adventure the PCs must be told that the “white knight” will save them.

They then find themselves trapped in a chamber that’s rapidly becoming lethal (gas, falling ceiling or floor, or whatever takes your fancy). On one of the walls are a series of portraits of various warlike figures, from left to right:

  • an undead warrior with mouldering flesh and a long spear mounted on a zombie horse
  • a battlemage with brilliant light blazing from her hands
  • a winter wolf (large white wolf) snarling out from the frame
  • a male warrior in shining steel plate brandishing sword and board
  • a foppish, flabby courtier in richly-coloured court clothes

Using any sort of trap-hacking skill, or previously placed hints, indicate that there is a hidden button in the frame of each painting. Pushing the right one will deactivate the trap and open an exit. Pushing any of the others will result in an acceleration of the danger.

The correct painting button is in the frame of the mounted undead warrior – who is, of course, a wight knight.

Categories: April Fool's, Generic | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

April Fool’s Week trap 1: Horned helmet trap


A single day of devious trickery – er, that is to say, creative subversion of player assumptions – was never going to be enough for this blog. This week, a series of traps that will really mess with your players. Most are in fact so ridiculously rotten that their best use is to spring them, howl with laughter at the ensuing shrieks of outrage, and then retcon the traps out of existence once you’ve had your fun, lest your players mount an open revolt.

The horned helmet

This ornate horned helmet is clearly enchanted. Any successful identification of the magic indicates that the helm offers substantial magical protection to the wearer and that the horns are enchanted to be lethally sharp. You might even casually drop the word vorpal; inappropriate as it might be to piercing damage, it should get your group salivating. Perhaps, if you don’t think it will tip your hand, there are skulls of powerful humanoids scattered around the area with holes clearly pierced by the horns of the helmet.

There is no curse or any other magical drawback. The magic is exactly as it seems.

However, what you will fail to mention – but only because your players fail to ask! – is that these vicious, diamond-tipped, god-hide-piercing horns are mounted on the inside of the helmet.

Attempting to don the helm results in an automatic critical injury to the head; successfully surviving the attack means permanent brain damage, while failure means instant death.

Welcome to April Fool’s Week!

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Swinging rope trap (CR 5)


This rope, found dangling over a yawning gulf, appears to have been used to swing from one side of the chasm to the other – the length is correct, and it doesn’t give when yanked on from the near edge. However, that’s because of the angle at which it is being pulled. When the force is directed straight down, a spring-loaded reel suddenly pays out another two metres.

When the rope spools out, characters can make a DC 18 Reflex save to respond in time, and if successful can make a DC 20 Climb check to scramble up the rope high enough to clear the lip of the cleft. If they succeed, they can roll onto the far ledge; if they fail by less than 5, they hit the lip and take 1d6 non-lethal damage, but can grab on and pull themselves up (though depending on their Strength and current load, you may require Strength checks for this).

If they fail their Reflex save, they slam into the side of the chasm, dealing 4d6 non-lethal damage and (assuming the victim is still conscious) forcing a Fortitude save equal to the damage dealt to hold onto the rope.

If they let go, the rope spools back in to its original length, and they find out what’s at the bottom of the cleft (taking falling damage as appropriate); if they hold on, they can climb up the rope to a point where they will no longer hit the opposite wall, but have lost considerable momentum and will need to spend 3 rounds swinging on the rope to build up their speed enough to make the far side.

Categories: CR5, Pathfinder | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

When rooms fly trap (CR 12)


Here is another installment of exTRAPaganza, our Thursday over-the-top trap series. 

What’s more fun than having a traps in a room? Why, making the room itself the trap.

When the trap is set off, the PCs are slammed to the ground (i.e. prone) and take falling damage as though they had fallen 30′ (Reflex for half). A ghastly howling sound comes from outside the room. Standing up initially requires a DC 25 Strength check, but gets easier over a few rounds. 10 rounds after launch, the PCs are suddenly weightless for a round, after which they drift back to the floor (but still feel strangely light). 10 rounds after the weightless round, the room slams into the ground for 1.5 times maximum falling damage (the landing, plus extra damage from the roof landing on the PCs at terminal velocity).

It’s up to you whether there are windows or open doorways out which the PCs can look to work out what’s going on – we’re inclined to recommend against it, though.

Casting feather fall inside the room causes roof damage earlier as the PCs slam into the ceiling; casting it on the room itself requires a skill check to modify the spell on the fly.

Note that when the PCs leave the room (assuming they survive) they will almost certainly find it is not in the same place as when they entered. If the PCs do somehow survive, and you’re feeling mean, roll some dice, pretend to consult a table and tell them it’s landed in an active volcano and molten rock is flooding into the shattered room. But not to worry – it’s about to erupt and repeat the effect, only this time with ambient lava…

Naturally we assume that you will then tell your players you were kidding. But do feel free to have the new location be interesting.

Categories: CR12, d20 Munchkin, exTRAPaganza, Pathfinder | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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