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Make Deadlier Dungeons With This Book

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Traps are an iconic part of the Dungeons & Dragons experience. Nearly every table has a story about a time when a trap took someone by surprise or how it was used to the group's benefit when dealing with a monster. Despite sections on traps in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and riddles in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, this element of the dungeon seems to be underserved in the current edition. Treacherous Traps from Nord Games looks to fill in the gaps with a book that not only offers several traps to drop into any dungeon but advice for Dungeon Masters to make their own.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to 250 traps built to test teams from levels 1-20. The traps are roughly organized into chapters covering a four level spread. Each trap has a basic layout covering the trigger, effect and countermeasures of each device. As expected, the traps tend to get more elaborate as the levels get higher, but one decision I liked was making sure each level has examples of traps that are entirely mechanical, entirely magical or a mixture of the two.

There are also sections on traps that go above and beyond a single encounter in an otherwise featureless room. Dungeon rooms feature traps working in concert with each other to confound and engender adventurers. The authors suggest using these sorts of rooms sparingly as a set piece protecting the McGuffin of the dungeon or as a background for a vital battle. There are also a few complex traps that are more akin to the old Mousetrap board game where one sets off another, which sets off another and the whole party will take it on the chin if it is not stopped.

The book’s trap design goes a little bit deeper into the hows and whys of traps. Lethality is expanded into five categories to show the Dungeon Master how bad it will hurt if the rogue whiffs their roll ranging from a setback that will do a little damage to a deadly trap likely to kill someone in one swoop. Then there are the purposes of the trap. Is it meant to alert someone to trespassers? Hold creatures there for someone to take them prisoner? Funnel them into a deadlier part of the dungeon? This was my favorite part of the book. Trap books rarely give thought to the narrative element of dungeoncraft and I wish there had been more discussion here. Traps and riddles are fun changes of pace to combat, but they can also reinforce the theme of a story or tell players about the villain from their design.

Puzzles also make an appearance in this book as they are often the cousins of traps and riddles. Much of the advice echoes that provided in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. The book also offers a wide range of puzzles and riddles to drop in, but one piece of advice from this section stood out to me. The solution that the players come up with for any of these conundrums may not be the one the Dungeon Master envisions, but if the players are enthusiastic about it, the Dungeon Master should do their best to support it. I ran an Indiana Jones-style step on the right stone trap in one D&D that the players figured out, but they also had the character with the most hit points step on the stones first. There were one or two sequences they didn't puzzle out, so the paladin gladly took the hit to keep moving forward. It kept the story moving forward, showed the nobility of the paladin and surprised me with a clever solution.

Nord Games has also released a series of trap decks in support of Treacherous Traps. The majority of the decks feature the traps in the book in an easy to draw format for use when a DM is stuck for an idea either while running a game. I liked the random trap generator the most. This is included as a series of charts to roll on in the book, but the deck makes it fun to pull two cards - a trigger and an effect - and then come up with a trap that connects the two. Writing prompts are a useful tool in any Dungeon Master’s toolbox because they can be more fruitful than staring at a blank page.

For Dungeon Masters who want more detail on an essential element of Dungeons & Dragons, Treacherous Traps has a lot to offer.
 

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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland

TheBanjoNerd

Gelatinous Dungeon Master
I look at the grims book as inspiration for my own ideas and take on things, but like i said this might be good for the new generation who needs these kinds of crutches to help them limp through their mediocrity.
Give me a break. There have been "crutches" published since the very inception of the game. I guess the "new generation" were struggling through their mediocrity back in the 70's when folks were buying Judge's Guild products to use in their campaign :rolleyes:
Not sure why you feel that everyone but you is creatively bankrupt.
 

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dwayne

Adventurer
Give me a break. There have been "crutches" published since the very inception of the game. I guess the "new generation" were struggling through their mediocrity back in the 70's when folks were buying Judge's Guild products to use in their campaign :rolleyes:
Not sure why you feel that everyone but you is creatively bankrupt.
not saying everyone your words not mine just saying what i see, as if i need something i make it my self as i have my own brain and don't need to be dependent upon others to fill it with theirs. But like i said to each their own man, if you tired or don't have the energy or time then yes this is for you.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I look at the grims book as inspiration for my own ideas and take on things, but like i said this might be good for the new generation who needs these kinds of crutches to help them limp through their mediocrity.
Don’t be so obnoxious. If you want to yell at the clouds and blame an entire generation for your woes, go find somewhere else to do it.
 

Michael Dean

Explorer
I look at the grims book as inspiration for my own ideas and take on things, but like i said this might be good for the new generation who needs these kinds of crutches to help them limp through their mediocrity.


Edit: did not see that the post was modded. Comment removed
 

I'm one of the co-authors of the book (Andrew), and I just wanted to say thanks for the write-up, Rob! :)

I certainly know that using traps in a game can be very hit-or-miss, depending on the table. Often, I've even found they can feel like just a huge waste of time. It was my ultimate hope that this book, while offering plenty of pregens, would get folks thinking more about the why of the traps (and the puzzles, and the riddles, for that matter). Traps, at their core, are simply obstacles. They're things that get in the player's way until they find a way to get by. It's times like that where I hate traps (and loathe when they're used in "gotcha" fashion just because the GM wants to take players down a peg or watch them squirm). In my humble opinion, a trap, puzzle, or riddle's main job is (like everything else), to serve the narrative. Reinforce the plot, bolster a theme, elaborate on something, illustrate an idea, etc. Use traps/puzzles/riddles as practical examples or tests of ideas previously presented in the adventure. Make their solutions things that tie into previously introduced information and reward players for paying attention.

As we say on our podcast, Inspiration Point (shameless plug: inspirationpoint.buzzsprout.com lol), the secret ingredient is love. If you love your players, don't waste their time. Don't stall them. Love them. Challenge them meaningfully. They'll thank you for it, and you'll feel more fulfilled as well. :)
I like that attitude. It pretty much matches mine. Any chance of a conversion for Fantasy Grounds? I'd buy that in a second.
 



Nord Games

Villager
I have my Grimtooths ultimate traps collection 460 pages of faces of death and destruction, this is a child's book but might be good to muse about the things with in though. Also i like making my own traps, and many of mine to this day players still have nightmares over. but might be useful to level a table or something
Are you calling Treacherous Traps a child's book?
 





This is really great cover art!

Does anyone know who the artist is?

Now that you mention it, it is really good! The way those spikes loom at the bottom in the dark, with the white text against the black background. And those blades at the top... the slanted walls. Some excellent composition!

Also, I love the lettering for the title, with the blade and gears as part of the font. Just a fantastic cover all round.
 


PasadenaVic

Villager
...traps within those products always seemed impractical and over the top.

Downloaded the preview for this, and it looks a lot more useful.
I agree that many "trap books" do seem impractical but upon downloading this one I can easily see slipping these traps into a game. What I'm not crazy about are the puzzle examples; I think drawings are required, simple text doesn't do.
 

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