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
We believe this trap was actually used by the IRA (the Irish Republican Army, a terrorist group dedicated to getting the British out of Northern Ireland) as a parting gift for British law enforcement. It works best as a modern trap, but with some adjustment of flavour could be used in a fantasy setting.
The PCs are given the location of a safe house belonging to an enemy group – a rival spy organisation, a demented cult, a supervillain’s gang, etc. When they arrive they discover that the safe house has been cleared out and completely scrubbed down. Whether enough forensic traces of their enemies remain is up to you – but also quite possibly academic.
As the PCs enter, you note that the only sound in the place is a steadily dripping tap, landing in an empty metal sink (there is no plug, so the water just drains away). Drip, drip, drip. As the PCs investigate, the dripping continues – either implicitly or explicitly driving home the complete emptiness of the safe house and thereby mocking their efforts. Play it low-key – you don’t want to give away that this piece of flavour is also bait – but make it mean something more than just scenery to the players. Eventually one of the PCs may get irritated enough by the incessant dripping that they go to turn off the tap – at which point contact is made in the detonation switch, and explosives in the walls and scattered through the building go off.
This trap was originally designed to be completely lethal, so while of course it’s up to you we recommend that the damage be extreme – especially around the trigger.
Whether the PCs have a chance to find the explosives is also up to you – again, in the original traps they were well hidden, often in the walls (set up as the safe house was originally established), or roofspace, or under the floor – or all three. Alternatively they may be hidden in plain sight as caches of (apparently inert) bomb materials.