D&D (2024) Searching and Safely Triggering Traps and Secret Doors

MGibster

Legend
I think there are two items to address here. The first is old school skill play where the players must search correctly in tedious detail. "You said search the desk, but not drawers!" The second is the binary nature of find trap or do not find trap. There simply is nothing more interesting to it.
Oh, wow, no, I didn't mean that level of micro management. I meant stopping the flow of the game by checking each and every door, chest, or other reasonable place they might expect a trap is what should be avoided. I imagine some people love such Gygaxian dungeon crawls, but I'm not one of them. On the other hand, the occasional trap is fun.

Perhaps the best part of the trap isn't being surprised by it, but rather working out how to beat it instead? In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy isn't surprised by the traps taking 1d6 hit points from a pointy stick, he sees the trap and figures out how to beat it.
 

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Stalker0

Legend
One house rule I have used forever, and I will keep using it, is this:

Searching for Traps
If you are proficient in Investigation (or have levels in rogue), you may choose to search for traps. Your speed becomes 5 ft. While searching for traps, you will automatically receive an investigation check to find any trap within 30 feet of you. However, on a failure, the player cannot reattempt the check.


I do this because I got so tired of rogues going "I check the door for traps, I check the door knob for traps, I check the floor next to the door for traps". So I made a covenant with the players, I promised them if they were looking for traps they would ALWAYS get a check, I would never say "oh you missed that spot!". But conversely, if they failed the check they had to go with it, they couldn't suddenly go "hmm....something about this feels off, hey do one of you all want to check or xyz".
 

aco175

Legend
Forget how you think the rules currently handle searching for traps and disarming them, and searching for secret doors and figuring out how to open them.
I think RAW is that you roll a Perception check to notice something out of the ordinary like scratches on the floor from where the desk is moved. Then you need to roll an Investigation check to see if you can actually find the mechanist that opens the door.

I tend to just make it one roll with Investigation if the PCs are looking for a secret door, thinking that they would notice the scratches and look in that area. I also tend to let them 'search' the room.

5e RAW has a pit-trap as being discovered by a Passive Perception of 10. Now, I don't know about you, but I've never seen a D&D character with a PP under 10, which means (on the surface) that ALL pit traps are discovered ALL THE TIME.
This might come into play with all-darkvision party and the disadvantage or -5 to Perception. I think that a lot of DMs forget about this.
 


pukunui

Legend
As an aside, one thing I would really like to see is more detail on how traps and secret doors work. Too often it’s just “DC 20 to spot the secret door” and that’s it. No info on how to open it. I’d like more of the “you have to find the fake book on the shelf and pull it out” or “you have to twist the torch sconce on the right” and that sort of thing. Makes exploration a little more fun.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
So... with no rules for traps, how do you keep traps from degrading ingot chaos and unfairness until the DMs make the smart descision to remove them because they're now just wholly unusable because there's no rules for them?
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
As an aside, one thing I would really like to see is more detail on how traps and secret doors work. Too often it’s just “DC 20 to spot the secret door” and that’s it. No info on how to open it. I’d like more of the “you have to find the fake book on the shelf and pull it out” or “you have to twist the torch sconce on the right” and that sort of thing. Makes exploration a little more fun.
Sort of. After awhile it becomes a game of search a thousand books and turn everything to the right to try to open the door.

Some thoughts in this thread have me thinking perhaps interaction is key. To disarm the trap, you must first figure out how to cross the room safely and not engage it. Standing on a plate in the room opens the secret door, but a second plate opens the next door in the hallways. Things the players have to engage with and make decisions on that dont include spending half the session finding out.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I think it would be using D&D's love of random table for good instead of evil for once to have a lever/button interaction table for the DM to describe what your check turned up.

Did the hidden door open via a button under a bust of Vilem Spearshaker, or pulling on a certain book, or striking a pose in magic mirror?
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I liked how 4e worked.....perception allowed you to see different things. You then had countermeasures (based on skills and classes) that included ways to avoid the trap, stop the trap from working, or counter its effects after it attacked you.....good stuff. So, perception and / or investigation or even detect magic, then attempt to counter the trap....
 

Clint_L

Hero
One house rule I have used forever, and I will keep using it, is this:

Searching for Traps
If you are proficient in Investigation (or have levels in rogue), you may choose to search for traps. Your speed becomes 5 ft. While searching for traps, you will automatically receive an investigation check to find any trap within 30 feet of you. However, on a failure, the player cannot reattempt the check.


I do this because I got so tired of rogues going "I check the door for traps, I check the door knob for traps, I check the floor next to the door for traps". So I made a covenant with the players, I promised them if they were looking for traps they would ALWAYS get a check, I would never say "oh you missed that spot!". But conversely, if they failed the check they had to go with it, they couldn't suddenly go "hmm....something about this feels off, hey do one of you all want to check or xyz".
I like this and do something similar - I assume that characters with certain skills or classes are automatically checking for traps and so give them a chance to find them automatically. Then, if the player stipulates something more specific, they can check again.

For example, if a rogue walks into a trapped hall I check right away to see if their intuition and experience alert them to something - if it does I might just tell them that something feels off, depending on how obvious the trap is. If the player has them slow down and check meticulously, I will give them a second roll. I agree that solving the trap is generally more fun than finding it.
 

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