System Mods: Injury Traps

William T. Thrasher

Despite being a staple of pulp adventures and fantasy gaming, I find myself increasingly board with traps. All too often they're just another way to waste hit points, life, and time. How many times can you climb out of a spiked pit? For all the time spent checking for traps, disarming them, resetting them to bedevil pursuers, and getting killed by them, I don't think I've ever felt anything other than boredom with occasional pangs of frustration, nothing to add to the drama of the game or add an interesting complication to the unfolding story. But traps remain a staple of the genre, so I'm going to do what I've always done and make traps work the way I want them to work.  Which brings me to injury traps.

Rather than both with whittling down HP or visiting sudden undramatic death upon the heroes, from this point on in my campaign I'm going to design traps with specific injuries in mind.

Now when the jaws of the bear trap snap shut, rather than worrying about 2d6+3 piercing damage the hapless hero finds himself dealing with a badly injured ankle, inflicting a -2 penalty on Reflex saves and reducing speed by 5 ft.

The falling block trap no longer deals hellacious damage to everyone in a 10 foot area, it leaves everyone who couldn't get out of the way dazed for 1d4 hours due to head trauma.

Don't worry about calculating acid damage from the booby trapped idol that spews a bellowing cloud of green miasma when it's jeweled eyes are removed. The burning fumes now leave the thief blind.

I'm hoping this experiment breaths new life into hoary old traps and adds a greater sense of drama, now giving the heroes problems to overcome and physical hindrances to work around rather than a temporary drop in HP that can be corrected with a potion, spell, or surge of divine energy with no consequence. Visit my blog in the future to see how it goes.

I'll be posting injury conditions for classic traps as I write them up.