Cheap Tricks & Dastardly Traps

William T. Thrasher

After overhearing an off-site conversation about the dreaded sphere of annihilation hidden in the mouth of a satyr in the infamous Tomb of Horrors module, I realize I don't spend enough time planning dick moves to guarantee the death of my player's heroes. Mind you, I'm not a killer GM and I have only contempt for the philosophy of play that claims it is the GM's duty to bedevil the players at every turn with death, death, and more death without mercy or respite. However, I enjoy the mental exercise of devising traps and hazards that deliver maximum threat with minimal effort. It helps focus the mind and concentrate on the mechanics behind life and death in the game in question. And once a year I'll slip one of these into the game for my players to overcome by their wits alone.

With that in mind, enjoy this freewheeling list of cheap threats that might be in your adventurer's future.

  • An iron cobra in a bag of holding. And the cobra is a construct, you don't have to worry about it suffocating in the bag. For added effect, The cobra could be ordered to ignore anyone placing an item in the bag and only strike at creatures reaching it to take items out.
  • A standard pit trap with a twist. Depth is irrelevant so long as the pit is 5' to a side. Filling the entire volume of the bottom 5' of the pit is a gelatinous cube. Anyone falling into the pit trap risks immediate paralysis and is engulfed. In an ice cave this pit can be only 5' deep and covered in a thin layer of ice, making it appear like a normal section of frozen ground.
  • A cache of healing potions. However, each potion is laced with reagents. When a creature drinks more than one potion from the cache in a day, there is a 50% chance the proper reagents combine and turn into something hazardous (e.g., acid, poison, explosion, etc.).
  • A menagerie filled with strutting peacocks. The birds are affectionate and are unafraid if approached by the edventurers, displaying their glistening plumage proudly. The tips of their plumage often brushes against the adventurers. However, hidden among their feathers are the feathery antennae of a rust monster, which are just as potent and likely to dissolve metal weapons and armor.
  • What appears to be a thick rime of frost cover the floor, walls, and ceiling of the dungeon is in fact a layer of frozen acid. The acid slowly dissolves the soles of footwear. The heat of a torch will also melt the acid, causing it to drip down and injure the torch bearer.

Check back soon. Something tells me I'll be adding to this list as I muse.