Sunday, October 12, 2008

Don't Touch That

“The fear of "death", its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the campaign referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival (remembering that the monster population already threatens this survival). For example, there is no question that a player's character could easily be killed by falling into a pit thirty feet deep or into a shallow pit filled with poisoned spikes, and this is quite undesirable in most instances.”
-Dungeons & Dragons Vol. 3 p. 6

I’ve never been a big fan of traps of the “save or die” variety. They have their place but shouldn’t be encountered regularly or randomly. At the same time, I do believe that a dungeon without traps is like a house without books: it’s missing its soul.

To work out a middle-ground, I put together a list of random traps to use in the course of stocking Ol’ Nameless. None of the traps on the list are straight-out killers, but depending on the luck of the dice, the preventive measures of the party and the poor sucker standing in the cross-hairs when it goes off, some of these could conceivably shuffle an unfortunate character off to 10’ Pole Hill. I’ve been using the list to give me a sort of “plausible deniability” in the case one takes out one of the party. After all, there was just as good a chance that a lesser trap might have been in its place. Blame the dice, man.

Random Trap Tables: Levels 1-3

Level 1
  1. Gas Trap – Roll on Poison sub-table

  2. Volley of Darts – 1d4 darts, 25% chance of poison [attack as 1st level Fighter, 1d3 points of damage]

  3. Ekim’s Minor Warding Web: Sleep

  4. Gas Trap – Roll on Poison sub-table

  5. Ekim’s Minor Warding Web: Shocking Grasp [1d8+6]

  6. Spring-loaded Blade – 1d8 points of damage

  7. Leomund’s Trap

  8. Poison Needle – Roll on Poison sub-table

  9. Glyph of Warding: Righteous Shout – Deafened for 2d6 rounds & 1d6 points of damage. Successful save halves duration of deafness and no damage taken

  10. Contact poison on container or treasure – Roll on Poison sub-table

  11. Glyph of Warding: Holy Light – Save or blinded for 2d6 rounds

  12. Quarrel Trap – Single crossbow quarrel, 25% chance of poison [attacks as 1st level Fighter, 1d4+1 damage]
Level 2
  1. Roll on Level 1 Table

  2. Pit Trap – 10’ deep, 25% chance of spikes

  3. Falling Bricks – 2d6 points of damage to a 10’ square area. Save for ½ damage

  4. Fire Trap - 1d4+8 points of damage. Save for ½ damage

  5. Ekim’s Minor Warding Web: Magic missile [three missiles 1d4+1 damage]

  6. “The Contraptionist’s Hedgehog” (volley of needles) – 2d4 points of damage to 10’ square area. Save for ½ damage. 50% chance of poison

  7. Glyph of Warding: Quail before the Divine – Paralyzed for 12 rounds. Save for ½ duration

  8. Poison Needle – Roll on Poison Sub-table

  9. Spear Trap – 1-3 spears doing (# of spears) 1d6 points of damage. Save to avoid

  10. Gas Trap – Roll on Poison sub-table

  11. Scything Blade – 2d4 points of damage, 25% chance of poison. Save for no damage
  12. Roll on Level 3 Table
Level 3
  1. Roll on Level 2 Table

  2. Contact Poison on treasure or container – Roll on sub-table

  3. “Old 33” (rolling rock) – 3d4 points of damage, save to avoid

  4. Glyph of Warding: Astra’s Touch – 12 points of electrical damage. Save for 1/2 damage

  5. Door of Doom – Door rigged to fall inward/outward. 1d10 points of damage. Save to avoid

  6. Portcullis Trap – Concealed portcullis drops. 3d6 points of damage, save to avoid. Party possible separated

  7. Explosive Runes – 6d4+6 points of damage to reader. All within 10’ radius save for ½ damage

  8. Ekim’s Minor Warding Web: Mel’s Acid Arrow- Hits as 6th level Fighter. 2d4 damage per round for three rounds. Splash damage and item saving throws apply

  9. Poison Arrow – 1d6 points of damage + roll on Poison sub-table. Hits as 3rd level fighter

  10. Spring-loaded Blades (2) – 2d8 points of damage + 50% chance of poison

  11. Pit trap – 20’ deep, 50% chance of spikes

  12. Volley of Darts – 1d4+1 darts, 50% chance of poison [Hits as a 3rd level Fighter. 1-3 points of damage each]
Poison Sub-table

Die Roll

Gas (1d4)

Contact (1d4)

Insinuative (1d6)



Generic Debilitative

Dormorum’s Tears


Generic Debilitative

Numb Limb

Nox Slap


Trog Musk

Fool’s Gold, Lesser





Generic Type AA




Distillate of Sculuxpendi giganti








Generic Type B






Michael Curtis said...

Consider this Monday's post about 11 hours early. I'm still trying to find a happy medium for the tables problem and wanted some time to dicker with it rather than deal with it in the morning.

The Grand Wazoo said...

It's EVIL!!!!

just watched Time Bandits and couldn't help myself.