Trapsmith (for Pathfinder RPG): Step aside Grimtooth – Gavin’s back and ready to trap! (A Review)

Veteran gamers and OSR fans have most likely heard of the infamous troll named Grimtooth, and his fantastic assortment of deadly and diabolical traps. (*nod* Flying Buffalo) Well, old Grimtooth has some competition these days from a mere human named Gavin the Trapsmith.

First introduced by author Maurice de Mare on the Kobold Press website, Gavin presented quite a few nasty traps of his own over a couple years, and his adventures formed a part of the narrative surrounding the trap itself. Many of these traps started as items suggested by readers, and from them sprung a little bit of storytelling and a new trap to be used by GMs.

Now the creator of Gavin the Trapsmith has compiled a huge selection of traps, locks, thieves’ tools, and assorted dungeoncraft theory all in one supplement from Kobold Press: Trapsmith (for Pathfinder RPG)!
Trapsmith (for Pathfinder RPG)

  • Designer: Maurice de Mare
  • Illustrations: Michael Jaecks (cover); James Keegan (interior)
  • Publisher: Wolfgang Baur (Kobold Press)
  • Year: 2013
  • Media: PDF (70 pages)
  • Price: $9.99 (PDF available from the RPGNow)

Trapsmith
is a resource supplement for Pathfinder RPG, designed to add more varieties of traps and locks encountered during heroic fantasy adventures. The book contains over 100 unique traps, ranging in difficulty from CR 1 to CR 35. Trapsmith also contains cunning locks which can offer unique challenges to rogues, and new assorted gear which rogues can use to defeat troublesome locks and dangerous traps. Finally, there is a CR6 adventure which utilizes the traps and the trap placement theory from earlier in the book.


Product Quality


The product quality of Trapsmith is very good, with some really sharp writing by the author, and an organized layout. Each of the pages have interesting “gearwork” watermarks under the text, and the choice of fonts and colors for the chapter titles, headers, and text make it stand out well on the faded sepia images.

The book is well organized, containing both a table of contents and PDF bookmarks - although the PDF bookmarks in my review copy were mislabeled in a couple places. Beyond that, Trapsmith has tables listing traps by CR level and alphabetically, with accompanying page numbers for fast referencing.

The artwork in Trapsmith is quite good, having a great action scene on the front cover, and some nice line art and grayscale drawings inside. In some cases, the traps have diagrams to illustrate how they work, and those illustrations are drawn to appear as line art on yellowed graph paper – a very cool retro-gaming feel to them. I wish there was a bit more interior art, as there are stretches in Trapsmith without any relief from a “wall of text”.


Traps Galore


Trapsmith
is roughly divided up into eight sections, with each one discussing one or more topics concerning, well, traps. Trap listings appear in standard Pathfinder RPG format, and are scattered throughout the sections to illustrate a particular idea or GM process the author is discussing. While this might seem a bit disorganized, I actually found that it made the reading of Trapsmith more enjoyable – the trap listings by name and CR at the end of the book resolve any issues one might have about finding a favored trap.

Many of the trap listings have fluff text, stories of adventurers setting or being caught by the trap. Sometimes there is read-aloud text to prompt GMs in how the trapped locale might appear - before the trap is set off and all hell breaks loose.

After a very brief introduction to set forth the purpose of the book – give PCs more “fun” with traps – the author launches into a discussion of the Taxonomy of Traps. He breaks down traps into general categories, and also includes information on scaling traps up or down to suit the level of the encounter. This section also includes a short section for players, detailing the types of traps a character with the quick trapsmith talent might use during an adventure, with examples.

The next section, cunningly labeled Traps, contains the bulk of the traps listed in the book. These are listed in alphabetical order, starting with the Ball of Tentacles to the Tainted Treasure trap at the end. The author goes on to a couple of short sections on using Layering Traps to create a greater challenge for the player-characters, and how to set up a Themed Trap. The author gives examples in both sections to illustrate the dungeoncraft theories, and I particularly enjoyed the Bridge and Pendulum Trap, which is a pretty cool interpretation of the deadly trap in the first Hell Boy film.

In a nod to the old Kobold Quarterly site, the author includes his favorite trap-building character in this supplement – The Exploits of Gavin the Trapsmith. He includes some of the traps from the Get Gavin articles in Trapsmith, along with some nice fluffy story text about Gavin’s adventures.

In the next section, aptly named Stick it to the Rogue, there are a selection of ten new locks that are guaranteed to “frustrate nimble fingers”. These locks include both mundane and magical varieties, and are likely to have a player with a Rogue PC glaring at their GM.

There’s an assortment of tools and gear available for thieves in a Managerie of Mischief, ranging from ammunitions and explosives to tricks and gear. The listings are done in a system neutral format, so this gear might find itself used in almost any heroic fantasy RPG game.

Finally, Trapsmith ends with Whispers of Wyrmhood, an adventure designed for 6th Level characters. Without giving away too much, I can say that the adventure features a very nasty assortment of traps and hazards, and offers a fun storyline involving – yes, it was inevitable – kobolds!

The final pages have lists the traps by CR and alphabetically, respectively, with page numbers to provide quick access.

Overall Score
: 4.1 out of 5.0


Conclusions


I have to say that I really like Trapsmith (for Pathfinder) quite a lot, and I think it makes for an excellent GM resource in any Fantasy RPG. The traps are imaginative, dangerous, and sometimes whimsical. And with more than 100 to choose from, Trapsmith provides a huge variety of possibilities when building an adventure or dungeon.

I did have a reservation with the way that player information was presented in the book. There was only a few pages of player content overall, but it ends up being presented in multiple places in the pages of Trapsmith. Placing all that information in one section, at the beginning or end, would make it more convenient for GMs to be able to offer those pages to the players without letting them rummage through the more dungeoncrafty parts of the book.

Overall, it’s a great resource for d20/Pathfinder GMs, and could be easily adopted to other RPG systems like 4E or DARPG. Given the storehouse of traps, locks and thieves’ gear found in Trapsmith, the price is right to consider adding this PDF supplement to one’s virtual GM library shelves.

Editor’s Note: This Reviewer received a complimentary copy of the product in PDF format from which the review was written.

Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)

  • Presentation: 3.75
  • - Design: 4.0 (Sharp writing; solid layout; PDF bookmarks not up to par)
  • - Illustrations: 3.5 (Cool cover art; nifty (but scanty) interior art and maps)
  • Content: 4.0
  • - Crunch: 4.0 (Very imaginative and dangerous traps; Solid PF trap stat listings)
  • - Fluff: 4.0 (Traps have fluff and read-aloud text; some very creative storytelling)
  • Value: 4.5 (Great big trap resource at a cheap price!)
 

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