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Not All Traps are Intentional – Wildfire

Deerfire_high_res_editNot every trap in the world was placed there by nefarious forces bent on destroying the PC’s. (Well, since you as the GM place these, this isn’t technically true, but…) Natural types of disasters can fit this bill nicely.


Thick smoke hangs in the air, sting the eyes and lungs. In the distance, a wall of flame rapidly approaches.

Type: mechahical; Perception DC 5; Disable Device

Trigger location; Reset None


A d100 * 5 foot wall of fire moves 1d10 * 5 feet per round in a single direction. Characters caught in the fire take 10d6 fire damage per round for 1d4+1 rounds, after which they will take 1d6 fire damage for 1d10 rounds.

This can be used in almost any setting where there is flammable material: grasslands, dry woods, or even high desert. If placed strategically, this trap can also make certain actions or encounters more exciting and create an interesting decision point. The characters may be heavily encumbered and on their way home from a nice haul, or perhaps there are only enough fire resistance potions for half of the party, and none for the horses.

It can also lend a sense of urgency to whatever the party is doing. Normally, deciphering some runes carved into a tree may not be exciting. The threat of incineration makes this activity a bit more exciting. The same would hold for a combat or NPC encounter, especially if the enemy is fire resistant.

These types of “traps” can be extended into whatever terrain your characters currently inhabit. Floods, avalanches, rock slides; these are all fair game in the wild outdoors.

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Wilderness Traps – Goblin Rocket Snare

Rocket Snare - GoblinThe great outdoors is a perfect place to place traps. Whether you place the trap just outside your dungeon or somewhere on the road, wilderness traps will often take the party by surprise. Consider the following:

Goblin Rocket Snare (CR 4)

Description: When the trap is triggered, a snare tightens around the character’s ankle as a small rocket fires. The rocket drags the character for 100 feet across the countryside.

Player Description: Piles of fallen leaves obscure patches of the ground.

Trap Description: A wisp of smoke curls up from the leaves as a rope ensnares your foot.

Type mechanical; Perception 22; Disable Device 18

Trigger location; Reset none

Effect: Rocket Snare Attack
(6d6 damage + target is dragged 100ft, DC 21 Reflex Save Negates)

This type of trap can serve several purposes.  It can be a wake up call, smack in the face kind of trap that will keep the adventurers on their toes, especially if they aren’t being cautious enough while exploring the wilderness.  If anything, their characters will probably set a double watch next time!

You can also use it to set up an encounter or lead the party to the next section of an adventure. Having this trap go off just before a goblin attack can make what would otherwise be an ordinary run-of-the-mill encounter into something very exciting; a member of the party is now injured and separated from the group, with enemy combatants between her and her comrades!

After the character is dragged 100 feet, she could find a cave, a hidden temple entrance, treasure, or even a clue. Using it in this way removes the drudgery of having the characters search and miss perception checks, etc. Since it was sudden and violent, it probably won’t even feel contrived, especially if you combine it with an encounter.

In the coming weeks, there will be more wilderness traps posted. In the meantime, open up the outdoors. Turn those otherwise boring treks into memorable events.