5 Free RPG Traps | A Trio of Terrors to Trap Characters
By Bryan “Tashio” Zeilstra
Slip, Slide, and Spike
Mechanical/magical trap (Simple trap, 5-10 deadly)
Description. A staircase leads deeper into the dungeon. About halfway down there is a single step that seems to have gathered less dust than the surrounding steps.
Trigger. A pressure plate is concealed in the step just above the dust free step. A character that stands on this step and then steps away will trigger the trap.
Effect. A grease spell goes off, centered on the step. The stairs then flip so that they form a smooth ramp. Spikes spring out from the wall at the bottom, facing the stairs. All creatures on the stairs and any entering the area covered in grease must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone and slide to the bottom of the stairwell colliding with the spikes. Creatures that hit the spikes take 33 (6d10) piercing damage.
Countermeasures. A DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) or Intelligence (Investigation) check made before reaching the clean stair will allow the character to spot the pressure step. Casting dispel magic will prevent the grease spell from triggering, but the stairs will still turn into a ramp and release the spikes. In this case, the DC for the Dexterity saving throw is lowered to 10, and the damage for hitting the spikes is reduced to 22 (4d10).
A Sticky Secret
Mechanical trap (Simple trap, level 1-4 setback)
Description. A torch sconce mounted on the wall near a secret door seems to be the means to open it. There is a bit of a looseness to it if touched.
Trigger. Holding and turning the sconce to one side to open the door will trigger the trap.
Effect. Turning the sconce causes it to secrete a thick glue-like substance, which instantly solidifies and glues the character to the sconce. Anyone attempting to pull their hand away from the sconce takes 5 (1d10) slashing damage as their skin tears.
Countermeasures. A DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) or Intelligence (Investigation) check will spot a strange residue on the sconce and several small holes. Plugging the holes with a cloth or other material requires a DC 13 Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check to avoid accidentally spilling the glue and becoming stuck to the sconce.
Breath of Fresh Air
Mechanical/magical trap (Complex trap, level 5-10 dangerous)
Description. A narrow 5-foot-wide, 60-foot-long walkway bridges a 20-foot-deep, 25-foot-wide pit. On the wall at the opposite end is a head carved into the wall with an open mouth. A strong wind blows from the head and pushes back anyone attempting to cross. Due to the wind, the walkway is difficult terrain. Panels line the walls on either side of the pit at floor height. The pit is comprised of smooth, slippery walls and cannot be climbed except at the starting side of the pit.
Trigger. Anyone attempting to cross the bridge causes the traps to trigger.
Initiative. The trap acts on initiative count 20 and 10.
The wind pushes back anyone attempting to cross the bridge, and the panels push out randomly, trying to knock anyone on the bridge off into the pit. Flying creatures cannot move in the unstable air and are blown back against the near wall taking 3 (1d6) bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet they are blown back.
Gust of Wind (Initiative 20). Anyone on the bridge must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be pushed 20 feet backward. Flying creatures are blown back up to 60 feet. If a creature is blown backward into another creature, both must succeed on DC 13 Dexterity saving throws or fall into the pit, taking 7 (2d6) bludgeoning damage from the fall.
Crushing Panels (Initiative 10). Anyone on the bridge must roll a d20. On a result of 1 to 9, they are hit by one of the panels and must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or be knocked from the bridge into the pit, taking 7 (2d6) bludgeoning damage from the fall. Those who succeed on the saving throw avoid falling into the hole.
Creatures can use their action to make a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) or Intelligence (Investigation) check to watch for the panels. On a success, the chance to be hit by a panel is reduced on a d20 roll to 1 to 4. Dispel magic cast on the head disables the wind until initiative 20 of the next round.