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.
Slightly anachronistic, perhaps, but great for a spellcaster worried about other casters breaking into her tower.
This trap consists of a door that requires a password to be spoken into the ear of a nearby statue or non-critter gargoyle to open. The party (or at least the party scout) should have a chance to see it being used and to get the password, but should not have a reason to test the password themselves – leave the door open while the owner is inside so the rogue can see in. The room beyond should ideally be one that one of the casters will want to enter first – perhaps a wizardly lab or even a necromantic one, to give both arcane and divine types a reason to go first.
The catch is that if the password is spoken by someone other than the owner of the tower, not only does the lock fail to open but the person speaking the password into it feels a puff of air on their face from the statue’s ear. That character’s player must make a DC 21 Fortitude save – if they fail, pass them a note explaining that their character may not speak or make any vocal noise (humming, etc) – their voice has been locked. (See what we did there?) This effect lasts d6*10 minutes.
To be really cruel, you could make it a bardic library – or indicate that a successful DC 25 Performance (acting) or DC 30 Performance (any vocal skill) check to imitate the owner’s voice will successfully fool the lock.
A very simple trap, this one involves running a powerful electrical current through a (conductive, though possibly covered with a non-conductive veneer) metal lock that is unlocked with a (likewise conductive) metal key. Those who know about the trap will know to ensure that they are wearing protective gloves when using the key. Those who are not in the know will suffer the trap’s effects.
This trap can be circumvented accidentally, so it works best outside of environments where PCs might naturally be wearing insulative hand protection. Hot climates and places where the PCs do not expect the intrusion to be investigated (so aren’t worried about fingerprints) are the place for this trap – perhaps it is a locker where a captured villain has stashed some critical files. If PCs are using equipment that can detect electrical current (or naturally have such senses), give them an easy-to-automatic chance to notice the trap; if they have similar abilities to detect magnetic fields, give them a slightly harder shot.
Tags: door, modern, sci-fi