Dungeon Delver’s Guide: Elite Traps

Dungeon Delver’s Guide (on Kickstarter now) contains more than a hundred traps ready to drop into your dungeon adventure. Of these, 27 traps—one-quarter—are elite, designed to test the entire party as part of a memorable set piece.

Most traps are akin to puzzles: they can be avoided or disabled with a clever solution or with one or two ability checks or saving throws. Once a trap has been solved or triggered, it generally poses no more danger to those who know its secrets. Like puzzles, these traps exist to get players’ brains moving, let characters stretch their abilities, and tell a story about a dungeon’s creators.

An elite trap functions more like a combat encounter than a puzzle. It typically poses a threat to multiple characters for multiple rounds. Just as an elite monster is twice as dangerous as a standard monster of its challenge rating, an elite trap can threaten and test every member of the party.

While it’s possible to disable or circumvent an elite trap through clever play alone, more commonly the characters must spend several turns using ability checks, attack rolls, and spells to overcome such traps—while facing danger to life and limb. A sufficiently dangerous elite trap can even act as a dungeon’s climactic encounter. Several of the dungeon adventures in Dungeon Delver’s Guide end with, not a boss monster, but an elite trap.

Like a combat encounter, an elite trap triggers an initiative roll. It can threaten any member of the party, not just the ones that triggered the trap. It might deal damage over the course of several rounds (like the Collapsing Dungeon trap, which drops rubble on adventurers that can’t keep ahead of the tide of destruction), or it might deal all its damage at once (like that old classic the Crushing Room trap, which doesn’t harm adventurers for several turns but deals quite a lot of damage at the end).

Let’s showcase both of these traps! An elite trap is a good challenge for a party with a level close to the trap’s CR, so If your adventuring party is at least level 6 or so, you should be able to try out one or the other. The Crushing Room trap is challenge rating 10, and the Collapsing Dungeon trap has challenge rating 7, 10, 13, and 17 variants.

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


I like the handling of the traps shown here, the mechanics seem sound and are better laid out and explained than I have seen before. I have been impressed by pretty much everything I have read for level up and am glad I backed the KS and am happy to back this project as well.

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