View Full Version : DM Help The Aesthetics of Play in Trap Design

2017-06-23, 03:19 PM
I've had a lot of internal conflict on traps and I think I'm a step closer to working it out with this article (https://mindweaverpg.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/why-traps/). I won't repeat the whole thing here, but the gist of my internal conflict is that I strongly feel traps have a role to play in any dungeon crawl, but the way I often see them used doesn't seem to serve the fun of the game at all (except by coincidence). My solution is to look at the kinds of fun players come to table top RPGs for (Fellowship, Discovery, Fantasy, Narrative, and Challenge) and think about how traps can be used to serve those needs.

Any thoughts or examples of traps you've used to serve fun at your table would be much appreciated.

Koo Rehtorb
2017-06-23, 03:29 PM
I think what's important is to use traps that involve more than a roll to find them and then either a roll to disarm them or just avoiding them if you know where they are.

Good traps are things which require puzzle solving, which the entire party can get involved in.

2017-06-23, 03:46 PM
Traps are dumb. I just don't use them.

I don't want my players to constantly act paranoid because that slows the game down.

I don't want traps to be puzzles because when you are solving the puzzle, what you are generally doing is pretty removed from the role playing game we have agreed to sit down and play for a few hours.

I don't care about the fun of that player whose character is specialized in finding and disarming traps because I don't play in systems that support it, or if I'm playing a system that purports support and then doesn't, I homebrew it a little. For example, if there was a class with "Disarm Trap" as a feature, I might change it to being a blanket feature allowing the class to work with complex mechanical dealies, or if there was a class that can see traps, I might change it into a general increase of vigilance.

I'm talking just about the errant bear trap that someone leaves in a dungeon or the treasure chest that sprays poison gas when you open it. Can there be stage hazards present during a combat? Sure. Can there be other non-combat related perils? Sure, but you'd bet they're going to have a better system to represent them than a roll to see if you found the hazard and a roll to see if you "disarmed" it.

2017-06-23, 06:04 PM
There's another trap thread over in the 5e forum: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?528112-How-to-handle-traps-as-a-GM

Over there, I said this:

The only times I've really enjoyed trap encounters in D&D were:

- Ye olde 1e thinking-and-description-only traps, which were more like puzzles than traps really; and

- New-style 4e trap-plus-monster encounters where the traps were NOT hidden, and were obviously dangerous parts of the terrain that made movement a tactical risk.

I think that new-style 4e traps could be integrated into any edition's encounters.

I'm certain that 1e puzzle-traps could also be integrated into a more recent edition, but there's a bit of a conflict in terms of skill checks, so that might take more work.

2017-06-24, 01:09 AM
A good trap is one that the players know is present and which they have to get around without triggering it. The Indiana Jones movies have many classic traps and all of them are easily spotted and identified.

At the same time you have to consider what the builders intended the trap to do. A trap that deals 1d6 damage in a world where intruders regularly have 20 or more hit dice makes no sense. It won't stop anyone. A better trap is one that creates a new obstacle or barrier when activated that forces the players to do more work to progress. Which includes calling guards to take care of the intruders.