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Encounter Prelude – Light Bomb

Encounter Prelude - Light BombSome traps, on their own, are completely harmless. In order to use them to their full potential, you need to follow them up with an encounter.

Light Bomb (CR 4)

The tunnel descends into darkness.

Type: magical; Perception DC 28; Disable Device 28

Trigger location; Reset None


When the PC’s get about halfway down the corridor, the entire area becomes bathed in bright light. Light Bomb(DC 19 Fortitude Save or become blinded for 1d4 rounds, those that make their save take a -2 penalty to vision based checks for one round); multiple targets (all targets within 60 ft)

There are several options for what comes after this trap. Of course, the obvious course of action is to use this trap as the opening gambit in a surprise attack. This can be used a few other ways, though. It can disguise another trap, help hide a secret door or just be used to diminish the advantage of a party with darkvision. It would also work well as a distraction for a fleeing NPC. As a last resort, you could just use this on its own, and watch the paranoia start.

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Dungeon Elements – Fountain


Dungeons and lairs are filled with objects and decorations. Not only should you use these, but make it not obvious.

False Life Fountain (CR 5)

A small fountain sits in the center of the courtyard.

Type: magical; Perception DC 29; Disable Device 29

Trigger Proximity; Reset None


When a PC gets within 10′ of the fountain, the water churns and splashes outward. When a PC is splashed by the fountain they are imbued with 1d10+7 temporary hit points that they are not aware of. These hit points will be lost first. To the PC, it will be as if he was not damaged until they run out. However, once they run out and the PC actually takes damage, he will also take additional damage immediately for the amount of temporary hit points he was granted. Fountain Splash(DC 21 Reflex Save avoids); multiple targets(all targets within 10′)

This one will work especially well if you don’t tell the PC’s anything happened when they get splashed. Just secretly roll up the temporary hit points, and next time they are in combat use them. You can describe the action, “You get hit with an axe. It penetrates your armor and bites into you flesh, but you seem to shake off the wound as if nothing happened.” They probably won’t know why they aren’t taking damage, but they won’t question it. However, once the hit points run out, make sure to describe what happens. “You take a glancing blow, but suddenly, wounds appear and begin to bleed profusely as you slip into unconsciousness”.

They still may not put it together, so you may have to use this again, and again… At any rate, once they figure this out, every time something minor happens, the players will suspect the worst. You can use this to build tension or to bring another layer of action to life in your adventure.

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Traps with a Twist – Fan Pit Trap

2013-04-01_Utrecht_50One good way to keep your players on their toes is to present some classical traps in new ways.

Fan Pit (CR 6)

The floor of this long hallway is made of wood. A glass window is in the center of the hallway.

Type: mechanical; Perception DC 22; Disable Device 19

Trigger location; Reset None


If the window is opened, the fan activates, pulling the character down into the pit. The pit drops 10 feet into a fan, and then another 20 feet. Pit (DC 22 Reflex Save or take 3d6 damage, +12 melee attack or take 4d8 damage from fan)

With the simple addition of an element (the fan) a normal trap takes an unexpected twist. By adding the fan, you’ve added an extra layer to a familiar trap. If you do this early, you can use this to help set up later encounters and elements, especially if your party has fallen into an exploration rut. This just might prod them to probe on layer deeper, which opens up your plot and design possibilities.