Unique Challenges for Lower Levels | 5e Traps
By Zac Chaney
Looking for some cool 5e traps you can drag and drop into your game to give your players a fun little surprise? Or perhaps your BBEG has a treasure hoard to protect? These 5e traps can help!
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Unique Challenges for Lower Levels
These three traps are designed to challenge lower-level parties. You can change and adapt them as needed depending on the level you’re running them for or use them as-is. When placing these traps, consider where they can have the highest impact. Most traps are designed to detect people who don’t belong, so they won’t be placed in a random hallway nobody is likely to enter.
A Deadly Aura
Dungeon hazard (Simple trap, level 1-4, deadly)
Description. Minerals hidden on the surface of a nondescript section in an underground cavern release this hazard. Characters will feel a little heat when they enter the area and may see stars like something is hitting their eyes. An unlucky few may witness a bright blue flash, which is deadly to all but the hardiest of people.
Trigger. When a character enters the hazardous area for the first time or starts their turn there.
Effect. When the character first notices the hazardous area, they might feel a little bit sickly. Once they step in, they must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, they take 22 (4d10) points of necrotic damage, or half as much on a success. Those who fail the saving throw but survive gain a level of exhaustion.
Countermeasures. Characters wearing a solid set of heavy armor, like plate, have advantage on the saving throw against this effect. If the characters fashion special gear made from heavy metal like lead, they are immune to this hazard’s effects. Alternatively, removing the first 1 inch of rock from the entire tunnel effectively removes the hazard (but this would require standing in it long enough to pull it off).
GM Note. Be careful when using this hazard. While level 4 characters generally have enough hit points to not be killed instantly, lower-level characters may not be as lucky. This hazard could turn into an accidental TPK. If you want to lessen the danger for low-level characters, adjust the damage to 5 (1d10) for level 1 use and 11 (2d10) for level 2 characters.
A Clucking Prank
Magical trap (Simple trap, level 5-10, setback)
Description. Outside of a wizard's tower, a large flock of chickens roam around. They peck at things on the ground and seem to gravitate toward anyone they notice, flailing their wings and clucking at them. A large number of eggs (at least two per character) dot the area; the eggs are all kinds of colors, ranging from light blues to reds and even some black.
Trigger. If the characters step past the chickens, trying to prevent them from entering the area, the eggs spring to life and begin rolling toward them.
Effect. The eggs have a movement speed of 30 feet per round and move directly towards the characters. An unknown force steers them, and invisibility or hiding does not prevent the eggs from approaching. When an egg gets within 5 feet of a character, it seems to leap up from the ground. That character must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw to avoid the egg; on a failure, the character must make a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw. On failing the second saving throw, the character polymorphs into a chicken as though affected by the polymorph spell.
Countermeasures. The eggs are easy to break and have AC 5 and 1 hp. Using a melee attack to break an egg triggers the Wisdom saving throw, but ranged attacks do not. Destroying all the eggs will neutralize the trap. Alternatively, if the characters are careful, they may be able to corral all the eggs together and trap them. This requires a DC 15 Dexterity check by at least two characters to accomplish. Casting dispel magic or waiting for 1 hour will revert polymorphed characters to their previous form.
GM Note. To make this trap more threatening, consider having the chickens be previous adventurers polymorphed by this same trap. In this case, the wizard who owns the tower should return and attempt to make the transformation last until dispelled.
Mechanical trap (Complex trap, level 1-4, dangerous)
Description. This is a crude trap of kobold design. What it lacks in any one definitively dangerous element, it makes up for in its sheer quantity of weapons. Between spikes that shoot up from the floor and blades that come out of the wall, it’s every rookie’s worst nightmare.
Trigger. The trap activates if the characters trigger a small tripwire in the middle of the hallway. Alternatively, hidden kobolds may manually activate the trap if they see the characters.
Initiative. This trap acts on initiative counts 20, 15, and 10.
Active Elements. A chorus of spikes and blades erupts all around the hallway when the trap activates. Periodically, a strong blast of air knocks the characters to the ground.
Spikes (Initiative 20). Spikes erupt from the ground. They target all characters standing in the hallway and have a +3 to hit. On a hit, the spikes deal 5 (1d10) piercing damage.
Blades (Initiative 15). Spinning blades extend from the walls. All characters in the hallway must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 5 (1d10) slashing damage on a failure or half as much on a success. The blades are able to hit creatures that are prone.
Air Blast (Initiative 10). A sudden blast of air blows through the hallway; all characters in the hallway must succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
Countermeasures. If the characters succeed on a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check, they’ll notice the tripwire. Deactivating the tripwire without activating the trap requires a DC 13 Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check. If kobolds will manually activate the trap, the characters can avoid being noticed by succeeding on a DC 12 Dexterity (Stealth) check.
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