Unearthed Arcana: Traps Revisited

This week's Unearthed Arcana deals with traps. "Traps—how to design and survive them—are the focus of this week’s Unearthed Arcana, which expands on the trap rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide". The PDF presents 9 simple traps and 3 complex traps and presents rules for designing them.

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Comments

Raunalyn

Adventurer
Actually an interesting article. I'm still scanning through it, though. I like the way they discuss the traps, their creation, and countermeasures (something that was missing, I think, from the DMG).

Poisoned Tempest is an absolutely inspired and devious trap! I love it!!!
 
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flametitan

Explorer
The countermeasures section I think needs some more clear wording as to its intent. The way I read it at first was "You need to be explicit in the way you attempt to disable the trap," in which case the traps are woefully underexplained as to how you can disable them.

If it's how others are reading it (That you simply need to be clear where everyone is when attempting to disable it), then that should be the part emphasized, rather than the "roll to disable isn't good enough."
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The trigger, effect, and countermeasure organization looks a lot like how they formatted traps in D&D 4e.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Interesting; easter egg mentions of Pyremius, Duel god of fire, and B2: the Lost City in there. Interesting to see how the DMG2/PHB2 elements of the new book are developing...

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It'd be nice to have some guidelines on crafting them. Perhaps open up some of the simple traps to the characters. The crossbow trap, for example could be used to secure a campsite to ensure some security during rests.

Especially with regards to the crossbow trap, it seems so very simple that a character with Survival or something similar (create some trapsmith tools?) could whip up one, or even a few, quick enough to make them appealing to an adventuring party.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
That bear trap must be a koala bear trap. It would barely impact a real bear. A black bear would break out in 3 rounds on and a brown bear on 2 rounds on average. Not a very good trap...

Other than that, I like this UA and the content.
 
With regards to Complex traps, I found this interesting:

Aim at requiring three successful checks or
actions to shut down one part of a trap.
...a reminder of the rule of threes/value of threes. Works in comedy, drama, beats etc. 3 strikes. 3 rounds. 3 lives. It's, for lack of a better term, an interesting example of 'game pacing'.
 

CydKnight

Explorer
The countermeasures section I think needs some more clear wording as to its intent. The way I read it at first was "You need to be explicit in the way you attempt to disable the trap," in which case the traps are woefully underexplained as to how you can disable them.

If it's how others are reading it (That you simply need to be clear where everyone is when attempting to disable it), then that should be the part emphasized, rather than the "roll to disable isn't good enough."
What it's saying to me is that you need to be clear at what you are doing to attempt to disable the trap and the die roll tells you whether you were successful in that attempt. The article even provides the example, “I use my thieves’ tools to examine the lock and attempt to disable the poison needle inside it” for what they mean by being specific about what you are attempting while offering that simply saying “I use thieves’ tools to disable it” is too general a description of what you are doing.
 
What it's saying to me is that you need to be clear at what you are doing to attempt to disable the trap and the die roll tells you whether you were successful in that attempt. The article even provides the example, “I use my thieves’ tools to examine the lock and attempt to disable the poison needle inside it” for what they mean by being specific about what you are attempting while offering that simply saying “I use thieves’ tools to disable it” is too general a description of what you are doing.
Aye. And honestly, we apply the same style of 'state intent, state how you wish to achieve intent' to skill checks in general.
 

flametitan

Explorer
What it's saying to me is that you need to be clear at what you are doing to attempt to disable the trap and the die roll tells you whether you were successful in that attempt. The article even provides the example, “I use my thieves’ tools to examine the lock and attempt to disable the poison needle inside it” for what they mean by being specific about what you are attempting while offering that simply saying “I use thieves’ tools to disable it” is too general a description of what you are doing.
The thing is, it asks you to be clear on what you do, but the actual traps (the mechanical ones, not the magical ones) don't even support that style of descriptiveness, and tells you to resolve them by... rolling to disable. Not that the example is even a good one anyway, there's hardly any difference between, "I disable it," and, "I disable [component]," besides word count.
 
Also seems to echo 4E-style Skill Challenges, possibly?

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yes they are they basicly look like pretty good examples of traps made using the skill chalange system.

Unfortuantely in 4th edition the advice on building skill challanges wasen't that good becouse it tried to cover a very wide range of situations.
so having a more focused version for traps is nice.
 

Osgood

Explorer
I'm glad they are doing this. Traps were an area I felt didn't get the right level of attention in the DMG. I just skimmed the document, and I like what I see so far, though I'm disappointed in the lack of XP for traps (at least some guidelines for DMs who want to award XP for non-combat pillars).
 

CydKnight

Explorer
The thing is, it asks you to be clear on what you do, but the actual traps (the mechanical ones, not the magical ones) don't even support that style of descriptiveness, and tells you to resolve them by... rolling to disable. Not that the example is even a good one anyway, there's hardly any difference between, "I disable it," and, "I disable [component]," besides word count.
That's a good point but what if it is disabled by depressing a switch that is several feet away from the apparent location of the trap mechanism. In that situation if one were to tell me "I attempt to disable the trap with my thieves tools", I am going to declare that more detail is needed in the player's description of exactly what is being attempted in disabling this trap.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Rulings, not Rules.

Every DM is going to have to decide what level of detail is needed from a player when disabling a trap. Just like every DM is going to have to decide how detailed they are going define a trap to be.
 

flametitan

Explorer
That's a good point but what if it is disabled by depressing a switch that is several feet away from the apparent location of the trap mechanism. In that situation if one were to tell me "I attempt to disable the trap with my thieves tools", I am going to declare that more detail is needed in the player's description of exactly what is being attempted in disabling this trap.
Sure, yes. If you have a trap that's disabled in such a manner, "I roll to disable the trap," might not be too helpful. However, that's tangential to my own point, which is that the sample traps don't even follow wotc's own guidelines for how to create countermeasures.

If they had examples like what you came up with, that wouldn't be an issue, as then they'd have traps where the requirement to be clear and precise actually matters. But the sample traps in the document are pretty much all "thieves' tools to disable," with no real description of what being clear and explicit should look like when dealing with them.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I've had a quick browse through, this is really good since I have some traps and hazards in my next game and I needed ideas for how to develop them. This UA should come in really handy.
 

Creamsteak

Visitor
Dispel magic might need to be clarified that if you use it at a level that is sufficient to dispel a spell of that DC automatically, it would work on these traps automatically. Right now I feel like you're almost always better not gambling on the flat ability check as opposed to a proficient skill.

Or the alternative right now I guess is spamming 3rd level dispel magic till you get the necessary roll... presuming there's no negative consequence.
 
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