Traps cover everything from simple pits to hi-tech defence systems and also include alarms. What sets traps apart from other challenges is that they need to be discovered before the characters can tackle them, and failing to detect a trap has consequences.

Deceitful Danger

A trap is an act of deceit and characters have prompted awareness actions to detect them as they would against an ambush or similar threat. Characters can also actively look for traps if they suspect one is nearby. Each trap has a fixed resistance score characters must beat to locate the danger. If a trap is not found the characters are at risk of triggering it, though the circumstances in which this occurs depend on the nature of the trap. When most traps are triggered they will make an attack, normally against whoever set them off but it could threaten everybody nearby or someone else entirely. If the trap is in the form of an alarm it will alert the guards via whatever means are appropriate. It may be that the alarm is silent and the characters will not know they have set it off. As the players may well know they have failed an awareness action the Game Leader should encourage good role playing with the players acting only on the information the characters possess.

Dealing With Traps

The four components of a trap are its resistance to being detected, it resistance to being disarmed, the circumstances which trigger it and its attack when triggered.

Resistance Score Situation
4 Primitive; a pit trap covered by a few branches.
7 Functional; a trip wire hidden in long grass.
10 Crafty; a bomb hidden in an everyday object.
14 Skilled; a pit trap covered by an illusion of solid floor.
17 Advanced; a networks of movement sensors and lasers.
21 Masterwork; scans the DNA of everyone in the room and dispatches nano-bots to reduce intruders to grey-goo.

To spot or otherwise notice a trap the characters must overcome its detection resistance with a suitable awareness action. Traps by their very nature are acts of deceit just like an ambush and the same consideration of situation bonuses should be given.

The disarm resistance is the score needed to deactivate the trap safely. Depending on the circumstances this may leave the device intact or may destroy it. Disarming a trap is limited to a single action taking a scene and cannot be tackled with an extended action. Characters may attempt the disarm quicker or slower, for the normal situation bonuses. Other situation bonuses should be awarded based on the circumstances. Successfully disarming a trap renders it safe. Failing a disarm attempt always triggers the trap's attack. Not all traps can be disarmed, for example a crude pit trap which would need to be filled in to be made safe. These traps are effectively disarmed once everyone is aware of them.

Traps are normally triggered by characters moving into specific locations but they can be more sophisticated. Magic that detects when a certain race of creature enters an area or a high-tech computer that activates the self-destruct system unless a codeword is said are both possible. Game Leaders are encouraged to use their imagination but also to remember a trap is a challenge and a challenge is there to entertain the players. Traps which are impossible to anticipate or defeat have limited entertainment value.

The attack is the consequence of failing to detect and disarm the trap. Generally the attack is a direct threat to the characters' safety but it does not have to be. The consequences can be minor or amusing if the Game Leader so desires. A trap's attack should be considered as an action, made up of different advantages and having a total dice score. This may simply be "when activated, the trap fires a volley of crossbow bolts for 4d6+0" or it can make reference to specific advantages, equipment and keywords - "the trap detonates a Mk3 Hand Grenade with a Blast (4d6)."

Characters affected by the trap have a resistance action against it. As traps are normally triggered in narrative play, players may use all their potential and advantages in defence. If triggered during combat the character has to spend potential on their resistance. Situation bonuses apply to trap attacks in the same way as other attacks. Characters always have a resistance of one even if they cannot or choose not to defend themselves against the trap's attack.

Example Traps

Primitive Pit Trap

10' wide pit covered in branches with a 20' drop on to spikes for 3d6+0.

  • Detect: 4
  • Disarm: n/a

Domestic Burglar Alarm

Sensors on all external doors & windows, infra-red movement detectors internally. Sends a silent alarm to the police if activated.

  • Detect: 7
  • Disarm: 10

Poison Lock Trap

The trap is triggered by anyone attempting to open the lock without the proper key. A cloud of gas floods the area, Aura (3), with an attack of 4d6+0. Anyone failing gains the Neurotoxin Poison status effect.

  • Detect: 14
  • Disarm: 4

Dwarven 1000 Blades Trap

Along the length of the 30' corridor, hundreds of spring-loaded blades are hidden behind the apparently solid stonework. The trigger is a pressure plate at one end of the corridor. When activated, hatches in the stonework open and the blades swing out attacking everything in the passageway for a 3d6+6 melee attack. The trap automatically resets after one round.

  • Detect: 20
  • Disarm: 20

Elder Gods Infinity Trap

Built by the elder races this trap uses alien technology. Unless a character has experience with the elder race's machinery there is a 4d6+0 bonus to the resistance for attempts to disarm it, due to unfamiliarity with the technology. The trap is triggered by primitive mental activity. Any action by the characters which uses an advantage with the Mind keyword triggers the trap targeted only at that person. A time stasis ray is fired at the target with a 6d6+6 attack with a Range (5). If the target is hit they take no damage but time freezes (from their perspective) for one day per degree of success.

  • Detect: 20
  • Disarm: 20 + special


DT, 2013/08/05 12:58

Chris - examples needed

Chris Tregenza, 2013/08/11 11:16

Yep - Will add for finished book

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open/mechanics/core/traps.txt · Last modified: 2013/12/06 10:06 by tregenza
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The 6d6 RPG tabletop store is owned and operated by Chris Tregenza. Who also owns and runs Myomancy, a site about ADD / ADHD medication, Autism and Dyslexia Treatments and also site called Poosk. Chris also provides copy-writing, web design SEO advice to sites like Dingles' Games pathfinder rpg resources.