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.
This trap consists of a long bookshelf along one wall in a room that the PCs expect to have a secret passage. One book is particularly incongruous (Courtship rituals of the lesser Mozambican gerbil) and sticking out from the shelf slightly (Perception 13 to notice). If pulled, it causes the entire ten-foot-tall bookshelf to slam forwards onto the ground within 10′ of the wall on which the shelves are mounted. (Perception 23 to spot the hinges and possibly some very faded bloodstains on the carpet; DC 23 skill check to disable the trap or set it off slowly; in PFRPG, 6d6 bludgeoning damage with Reflex 23 to take no damage, or 20 for half damage; in M&M3E, a bludgeoning attack with a +13 bonus.)
The trap also covers the real secret exit – a trapdoor which is now under the bookshelves. (DC 28 to notice it before this, as it’s under a rug.) If through some incredible fluke a PC is standing on the trapdoor when the trap hits them, the trapdoor takes as half much damage as the PC, and if that exceeds its 15 hp, it collapses under them. It’s up to you how far they fall and what they find.
This trap works well in conjunction with (or shortly after) the previous trap.
It consist of an identical button, also marked emphatically DO NOT PRESS. At some point the room in which it sits becomes a slow-acting deathtrap – perhaps water starts flooding in, or gas, or the room is sealed and air starts running out. In any case, pressing the button will deactivate the trap, but hopefully the PCs are sufficiently spooked that they won’t do it.
In PFRPG, you might allow a DC 30-35 Disable Device check to ascertain the true nature of the button, but if so, roll secretly so the PCs are not quite sure whether a 1 was rolled.
A strongly “psych-out” trap like this, especially one prefaced by one or more instances of the “learn to read” trap, indicates a consciously manipulative trap designer, someone who is trying to prove that they are cleverer than their victims. As a guaranteed deathtrap it is rather inefficient, but as a statement of malice and declaration of psychological warfare it is highly effective.
This trap tends to work better in a modern setting, where sliding glass doors are more common and therefore less jarring in flavour. The rules text is for Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition.
The default trap is more humiliating than damaging, making it better suited to a consciously pranksterish builder, but by altering the nature of the door it can be made more lethal.
The trap consists of a sliding door with a clear panel, most likely glass but perhaps a monofilament mesh or damaging forcefield; the PCs approach it from a dim room, and the other side is bright, to ensure there is no reflection from the glass (or other medium). A DC 20 Perception check may be made to notice the narrow doorframe; this is slightly thicker against one edge of the doorway, where there is also a handle to pull to slide the door open. Initially stiff, it gives suddenly, and slides swiftly and smoothly along a groove in the floor and into the wall.
Unfortunately, the door is only part of a larger sheet of glass, and sliding the door across simply moves the other half of the glass into the doorway. This half, however, doesn’t have a mock doorframe, so the Perception check to notice it is DC 30.
Hopefully you’ll get PCs with both sides of this trap, and for an extra twist you can always put some gas on the other side for when they finally break through.
This trap works in two parts.
The first part involves coating the victims-to-be in a deadly injury poison (a poison which needs to break the skin to do damage). Perhaps they have to climb through an abandoned silo filled with toxic spores, or wade through a poisonous planar swamp, or pose as cultists and be baptised in a pool of venom. (This last option works well, as it gives players a chance to know exactly what’s going on and to feel clever about not worrying about taking a bath in the stuff.) If you’d rather use disease than poison, it could even be as simple as sewer-crawling. In any case, the characters (and players) should have a moment of apprehension, but the scene should feel more like a memorable piece of narrative colour rather than Phase One of your latest dastardly scheme.
Some time later, when players and characters have had a chance to forget the setup above but before they’ve had a chance to wash, they get exposed to itching powder. Really strong itching powder. It makes the PCs soooo itchy…
If characters decide not to scratch on general principle, they may make a hard roll (in PFRPG, a DC 18 Will save) to resist the urge – this is seriously itchy stuff. They get a substantial bonus (PFRPG: +10) to this roll if they recall the stakes, i.e. that they are coated in injury poison. If you’re feeling generous, and none of the players recall the danger, you might like to make a hidden roll for their characters to give them a chance to remember.
Bonus Manipulative GM points if you can get the party prankster to administer the itching powder without catching on to the consequences.
(Death by bedbug option: Rather than itching powder, use insect bites as the trigger.)