Now I tend to not use traps in my dungeons or my adventures and the reason is simple.
They either slow down the game with players checking every room or corridor for one or more traps or, the players start to suspect me of trying to kill them by including traps.
I will explain why I love traps but also why I fail to use them often in a simple write-up of a ‘random’ encounter I had with my current party.
The human Paladin, Tiefling Ranger and ‘Treefolk’ (homebrew race) Blood Hunter were escorting a caravan carrying an unholy relic from Eruva Osto; the great walled city, to Cthlaxiis where an order of knights would destroy the artefact and aid in preventing the second coming of a undead deity.
As the caravan and it’s escort made its way under the shadowed canopy of oak and pine trees they approached a fallen tree about 60 feet away. Next to this tree a familiar form of a mushroom loving Kobold they met the other day could be seen picking up some mushrooms. The Blood Hunter approached the Kobold, narrowing avoiding fine silken thread that had been placed at several places along the road. As the Treefolk questioned the Kobold a caravan guard stepped forward and was shot with poisoned darts, he began to hallucinate as several kobolds let off yipping battle cries and rushed towards the larger humanoids with the element of surprise in their favour. A few rounds of combat saw all the PCs unconcious and robbed, the strings of silk and threat of traps hampering their fighting prowess. As a npc guard ran forward to stabilise the fallen party members he accidentally set off a log trap that turned him to jelly when it pulverised him against a tree laden with hidden spikes.
From that adventure onwards they remembered Barry the guard and have a fear of kobolds. But more importantly it demonstrated how the puny kobold or semi-intelligent monster could work with traps and boost themselves from mere fodder and a way to wet the blades of your party, but to become something which the players remember forever.
I liked this encounter. The traps where very low difficulty and threat level which suited the three level 2 pcs but it challenged them to think out side of the hack and slash box.
What I didn’t like was the snowball affect that lands me with two or three players rolling perception and investigation checks every new room they walk into. Even when it’s very clear that there isn’t anything here they still love to check for traps. This paranoia means that for me utilising traps is a moot point, which I and drive with. But what it does do is slow down the game a bit.
When you have 80% of the party being working parents and your game time limited to Saturday night from 8pm til 11:45pm (we don’t play past 12am due to an effect we call the happening.. stuff gets weird after midnight) any delay in game time can really impact the enjoyment that the party get out of the session.
But with this week’s adventure having a dungeon full of traps I think it’s time to address that tool in the DMs toolbelt and see what this adventure can bring.
Start safe, play hard and don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe