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Dungeon Elements – Stairs

Chicago-Cultural-Center   For the next few weeks we’ll explore how typical dungeon elements can be trapped in non-traditional ways. This week we’ll look at stairs, as illustrated by the following trap, which was inspired by a video from students at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Escher Stairs

A staircase leads up, then abruptly turns right.

Type: magical; Perception DC 31; Disable Device 31

Trigger location; Reset None


The stairs are an illusion. It appears that you are on an endless staircase, going up and up. In fact, the staircase ends after two flights. However, unless the illusion is disbelieved or dispelled, the characters will be stuck in an endless staircase loop. Escher Stairs (DC 20 Wisdom Save to disbelieve, CL 13 to dispel)

Usually, when you think of a stair trap, you think of a nasty stair, collapsing stairs, or something else that can cause serious damage. However, this one is a perfect setup, either for plot or just for fun. Here are some ideas you can incorporate with this one.

Have two sets of staircases, identical, except the first one they choose will be the trap. Once they get out of it, they will probably spend a few rounds carefully examining that second staircase.

Once they’re on the staircase, have something on the staircase that rolls down or falls, a boulder or a flaming barrel for instance. Make sure that this happens before they reach the end and figure out the illusion. That barrel will just keep following them down the staircase, and no matter how far they run, the barrel will still be there.

You may also choose to create a cartoon scene here if a chase is involved. Have the villain escapes up the stairs, with the characters in hot pursuit. At some point, the villain can turn the corner and appear behind the characters. The possibilities here are endless, and this is just a single example of what can be done with stairs. Please post any other ideas to incorporate with this trap, I’d love to see them!