If you missed the first of this series you should go back and read it. In short, I am gathering a collection of traps, triggers, and puzzles for new GM's to use for their dungeons. Hopefully these will prove useful, or at least interesting, to create your own.
I am using the following definitions for my vocabulary:
Trap – A nonliving danger that is posed to the players that are activated with a trigger.
Trigger – A mechanism that activates some effect, both beneficial and hazardous.
Puzzle – An obstacle that requires a series of actions to complete, usually involving a level of intellectual challenge.
Trap: Gravity Shift
One of the more fun ways to mess with players is to shift their perspective of gravity. This can lead someone into another trap such as lava that is on the ceiling or into another shift in gravity. A gravity shift could also change direction or turn off entirely. This kind of trap may be unexpected except to perceptive individuals as a shift in gravity may not be entirely noticeable. This kind of trap requires a level of three-dimensional thinking that some players may not be entirely good at, so take this into consideration before putting this in your dungeon.
One of the classic traps in tabletop games, a pit is a hole in which an individual falls into. This can be filled with any number of things or nothing at all. Spikes is a common hazard to be filled at the bottom of a pit, this is generally considered a dead fall. Each of the hazards placed at the bottom is a way to make the danger of the pit better. These hazards can also give narrative to the creators or past of the dungeon. A tiger in a pit would give the notion of regular maintained or common intruders, because the tiger needs to be fed.
The depth of a pit is variable. From the classic module "The Tomb of Horrors" there are several pits that are 100 feet deep. For most systems falling damage increases as the distance does so the depth of a pit increases its danger. Not only does falling make it more dangerous, but that also means climbing out can be a bigger danger.
One of the simple machines, this is a wonderful trigger. Simply put, a lever is a rigid bar that is set on a pivot point. Most common in games they have two positions and only move along one axis. One of the more common levers that we experience nearly everyday is the shifter in your car. Depending on your car this lever can move along two axis and have several different positions.
Regardless of the number of positions a lever has the position of the lever determines what activates. A simple example is a pulled lever that opens a door. Not only does the position determine events but you can also consider the previous positions in the lever. For example lets assume a lever has five positions. A possible solution to opening a door would be to move the letter from the initial position (position 1) to position 4, then to position 2, and then back to the initial position. This could be considered like a combination lock. Getting a position incorrect could also trigger a trap.
Now, if you are reading this, you have used a button of some kind. Buttons are incredibly similar to pressure plates. One could say they are identical to pressure plates just a smaller version. One of the mechanics I forgot to mention in my previous article with pressure plates was the mechanics to reset the pressure plate back to its original position.
Puzzle: Ring of Fire
This room has one exit and one entrance. On the floor are magical runes in a circle. A character who has arcane knowledge and inspects the circle will find that they are protection runes. To run this puzzle you will need to have all the players roll initiative, because after 18 seconds the room will fill with fire. The only safe space is inside of the magical circle. Once the fire dies down the exit unlocks. To increase the challenge of this puzzle you can have fire elementals come from the flames after they erupt.
Most players are hesitant to step into magical circles so likely they will be consumed by flames. Because of the backwards nature of this puzzle players from here will have a difficult time believing what is the correct approach to magical circles. Always keep them guessing.
Puzzle: Fill the Bowl
A classic puzzle that I have seen in a few locations. Another room with a locked exit all that sits in the room is a bowl on a pedestal. Written on the pedastel is the phrase "Fill the Bowl". Inside the bowl the players see it is stained with blood. Resting in the bowl is a blood stained knife.
The solution to this puzzle is incredibly straight forward. As the instructions say all that needs to be done is the bowl needs to be filled and the door will open. They can be filled with anything. The bloodstains are simply to fill players heads with assumptions. It is entirely possible they will bleed themselves into the bowl, you can handle this in any way that you see fit.
Hopefully these have proven to be valuable for your table. Remember that you can use each of these elements in parallel with other traps, triggers, and puzzles that I have covered with this series.
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