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5E I love TFtYP, but one quibble with Tamoachan sandbox trap

machineelf

Explorer
-SPOILERS ahead-

I just got my copy of TFtYP the other day, and so far it's great. I even like the Tomb of Horrors, even if it is less dangerous than the original.

Now, Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan holds a special place in my heart. My favorite trap from the dungeon is the sandbox trap. But there was a problem with the trap in the original: they give way too much time for characters to figure out how to escape. It makes it hardly a deadly trap, and I think it should be. The conversion of the dungeon in TFtYP doesn't fix the problem, and it actually makes it worse, in my opinion.

The sandbox trap is a fantastically dynamic trap. And what I think makes it so cool is the panic that should set in for characters who are trapped inside, and for any of their co-adventurers who are outside trying to help them before the room fills up with sand. In order to get this trap right, the timing has to be just right. There needs to be enough time that it's possible to escape, but just barely. And there needs to be a real danger of not escaping.

In order to make it work, I found that when I converted it that there needs to be about 10 rounds before the box is completely filled with sand.

But how much time do they give you in TFtYP? ... 100 rounds! That's right, 100. In fact, the sand doesn't even start filling up the box until after they have been stuck in it for 5 rounds. Did the designers forget how long 5 rounds is in terms of table time? I mean, there's a chance that the characters will escape the box and move on before they even realize it would start filling up with sand. With 100 rounds, I think the characters would die of boredom before they die of sand.

(I think the designers did an amazing job with the rest of the book, but they missed the mark with this particular trap.)

One hundred rounds is just ridiculous to me. I haven't playtested this in awhile, but I think it would work much better if the sand starts filling in the box one round after they get stuck in it, and it completely fills up the box about 10 rounds after that. That should give the characters enough time to assess the situation, and start beating down the wall with just enough time to escape. And if they tarry too long and don't start working on the wall, then it can be a deadly trap, which I imagine is the point of putting a sandbox trap in an ancient dungeon.
 
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Satyrn

First Post
I wonder if they made it 100 rounds to your ten because for the original, D&D's round was ten times longer than it is now.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
I wonder if they made it 100 rounds to your ten because for the original, D&D's round was ten times longer than it is now.
Yep.

1 round in 1st Edition = 1 minute.
1 round in 5th Edition = 6 seconds.

So 10 rounds in 1E = 100 rounds in 5E.

It's the same amount of time.
 

machineelf

Explorer
Yep.

1 round in 1st Edition = 1 minute.
1 round in 5th Edition = 6 seconds.

So 10 rounds in 1E = 100 rounds in 5E.

It's the same amount of time.
Still way too much time. Can you imagine spending 100 rounds on any trap in 5th edition? (That would be like the entire play session.) Can you imagine any group that would not be able to find a way out of the box before 100 rounds pass? They'd have to decide to take a nap in the box for awhile for it to be a deadly trap.

I noticed it was too much time in the original, too, when I converted it. So when I did convert it, I sped the trap up as I described above. My players did manage to escape it, but just barely as they were choking on dust and with sand up to their waists. It was a memorable part of the dungeon as two trapped inside and two on the outside worked on destroying one of the walls. The two on the inside came pouring out of the hole, along with all the sand, after they broke through.

With 100 rounds, I think you miss all of the danger and excitement of that particular trap, so my suggestion is to speed up the sand.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
I noticed it was too much time in the original, too, when I converted it. So when I did convert it, I sped the trap up as I described above.
Probably for the best. That way, in both editions, the characters are limited to 10 actions. And that's really the important thing -- not so much the time they have, but what they can do in that amount of time.
 

machineelf

Explorer
Probably for the best. That way, in both editions, the characters are limited to 10 actions. And that's really the important thing -- not so much the time they have, but what they can do in that amount of time.
I'm not sure if you are agreeing with my proposed change or not, but to be clear, the characters are not limited to 10 actions the way the trap is currently written in TFtYP. It takes 10 minutes for the room to be filled with sand. That's 10 rounds per minute, so that's 100 rounds, hence, 100 actions.

Edit: Oh yes, I see what you are saying now after I read your comment again! I agree with you. The idea was 10 actions, regardless of time. It seems TFtYP got stuck on the time element, and not the idea of how many actions were supposed to be allowed.
 
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pukunui

Adventurer
Since it's not a combat, don't bother with rounds. Use the dungeon scale of minutes. (See "Time" on page 181 of the PHB.) That ought to leave you with the desired ten actions (eg. One action per minute.)
 

jaelis

Oh this is where the title goes?
Filling a room with sand in 1 minute sounds crazy to me. Forget being trapped, it would be like getting caught in an avalanche. 10 minutes sounds better, but I just wouldn't run it in combat mode. If you give the players 10 real-time minutes to figure it out, I'm sure they will feel appropriately panicked :)
 

Greenmtn

Explorer
A lot of board games come with little hourglasses. You could use one of those as a prop to help time it. Stick with 10 rounds but if the PC doesn't tell you what they are doing before the timer is up you move to the next one?

Just a thought.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Ok. Page 76. Let break down the conditions. And I think some it is badly worded.
Round 6. Sand comes in. Dust condition starts. Dust condition is last paragraph of room. DC 13 Con save. Fail Coughing. 1/2 speed. Disadvantage on Ability check to remove restrained.
Round 11. sand comes in. and maybe monster
Round 16 Difficult terrain
Round 36. DC 10 str/dex save or become restrained
Round 56. DC 15 save
Etc.
I thing changing the time is ok. But for the dust condition. I would rule save every round. If coughing no verbal spells.
 

Kalshane

First Post
A lot of board games come with little hourglasses. You could use one of those as a prop to help time it. Stick with 10 rounds but if the PC doesn't tell you what they are doing before the timer is up you move to the next one?

Just a thought.
A 10-minute hourglass sounds like a perfect tool for this encounter. Not only do have the "hurry up aspect" of a live countdown timer, but the bottom of the hourglass filling with sand would be a perfect visual for how much the room has filled up. (In this case you wouldn't run things in combat rounds, but simply quickly go around the table asking each character what they were doing. If the player can't answer in a few seconds, their PC is momentarily frozen with panic and you move on to the next.)
 

Satyrn

First Post
Edit: Oh yes, I see what you are saying now after I read your comment again! I agree with you. The idea was 10 actions, regardless of time. It seems TFtYP got stuck on the time element, and not the idea of how many actions were supposed to be allowed.
I think it's more that the writers simply don't expect this to be run round-by-round, that the DM will judge time passing however he normally does during an exploration segment.
 

machineelf

Explorer
Since it's not a combat, don't bother with rounds. Use the dungeon scale of minutes. (See "Time" on page 181 of the PHB.) That ought to leave you with the desired ten actions (eg. One action per minute.)
This is what I was missing. Thank you all for your clarification and suggestions. I like the hourglass idea.

Sent from my VS990 using Tapatalk
 

ccs

40th lv DM
Yep.

1 round in 1st Edition = 1 minute.
1 round in 5th Edition = 6 seconds.

So 10 rounds in 1E = 100 rounds in 5E.

It's the same amount of time.
Except that it's not. At least not really. AD&D you get 10 actions in that space of time. 5e? You get 100 actions. If you can't escape in 100 actions....
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
Except that it's not. At least not really. AD&D you get 10 actions in that space of time. 5e? You get 100 actions. If you can't escape in 100 actions....
10 rounds in 1E = 10 minutes.
100 rounds in 5E = 10 minutes.

So unless you want to argue that 10 ≠ 10... it's the same amount of time. :)
 

Satyrn

First Post
So, I'm a little curious, does the book say "100 rounds" or otherwise mention anything in the context of 100 rounds?

I would never consider using rounds to run this sort of thing, rather judging how long it takes for the characters go perform whatever various things the players attempt, pacing it like the trash compactor scene.

Editted because I think might have come across a little rudely.
 
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cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Instead of 100 rounds, give the players 10 minutes. Actual minutes. Get a stop watch and start timing them.
 

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