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D&D 3E
Traps and puzzles ideas? 
25th-Aug-2008 10:55 am
FF-Lenne
First of all, thanks to all of you who offered thoughts and suggestions on my previous post. You've helped a lot and I'm feeling more and more confident about this. I'm currently thinking of started with something like "The Secret of the Windswept Wall", or The Sunless Citadel or The Forge of Fury, or maybe a combination of the three and using those events to place an item in the PCs possession that will draw them into further adventures.

Anyway, the real point of my post is that I've been playing some old nostalgic PC games and thinking of how some of the basic traps and challenges that you find there could be translated into some unique D&D traps. So far I have ideas from Might & Magic VI:

*Bones with treasure that curse PCs when dug through
*Trash with (minor) treasure that disease PCs when dug through (I know this one isn't unique)

*The doors from Goblinwatch - 6 doors in a row down a hallway with 16 buttons (4x4) labeled A through P. Each button opens one door and closes another one. Correct solution: NILBOG (goblin, backwards) (using some variation of this idea)
*Wells that offer temporary (or permanent?) stat bonuses - seriously, what intelligent PCs will drink from a well in a dungeon?

From Diablo II:
*A mob of weak monsters (i.e. skeletons) with a larger monster around the corner raising the weak ones

And from NWN: Hoards of the Underdark:
*Portals (maybe invisible?) on the ground that teleport individual PCs to other parts of the maze/dungeon, possibly sepparating the party.

I realize that these are not unique (by definition, since I got them from video games), but they are still ideas. Are there any other ideas for simple but creative traps and challenges that you can think of to suggest?

And to finish off my post, I have a question. In thinking about the DCs and saves involved in these challenges, I began to think about illusionary floors. I thought that the rule with illusions was that you don't get a save until you "interact" with it. Does that mean that if the player doesn't specifically ask if the floor is solid, they won't get a save until they are already stepping on it? And by then it's too late? Or would it be a reflex save for the first poor sop to step on the illusionary floor and a will save to disbelieve it afterwards by everyone else? 
Comments 
25th-Aug-2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
There was something on the Dragon site I believe about adding illusions to wizard's portfolio; they tended to be Int vs. will. Take a look and see how those worked.

I have generally tried avoid traps which punish the PCs for being adventurers. After the first couple of diseases caused by digging through piles of junk, they stopped digging through piles of junk and started missing treasure...

I tend to adjudicate illusions as being extremely powerful but very specifically stated. If something is supposed to be a wall, it functions exactly as a wall does. If somebody disbelieves it (which works differently depending on the game system du jour), it becomes a totally obvious fake for the person who disbelieved.

Example: A mage and a paladin walk into the top floor of a tower. The floor is an illusion. The mage looks down and say, "Hey, look, the floor... aaaaaahhhh!" as he falls through the floor. The paladin looks down at the floor, stomps her feet, says it seems solid to her, and has to find another way down because the person who put the illusion there didn't think to include an illusory trap door.
25th-Aug-2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
Hmm... good point. Though knowing my group, nothing would get between them and a) treasure or b) killing things. Still, I agree; thanks for the pointer.
25th-Aug-2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
Illusory floors and traps are what 10-foot-poles were made for. That and not touching things you dislike. The player wouldn't get the save until it was interacted with, whether that involved throwing debris down the hall, poking at it with the pole, or watching the rogue fall through it. I'm pretty sure falling through a solid surface grants a bonus on the will save to others.
25th-Aug-2008 07:20 pm (UTC)
I was never a big fan of most puzzles in D&D -- big reason was how artificial and language dependent they were. Languages change over centuries, so it never made any sense for me to put a word puzzle in an ancient ruin. Puzzles based on logic, visual acuity, mathematics and the like, on the other hand, make more sense. Plus word puzzles assume literacy. If your setting does not assume the PCs are literate (despite what the rules say).

I like using more practical problem-solving situations, e.g. "How do we cross this chasm?" or "Which McGuffin is the magical artifact?"

Traps can be fun if you think of a means to circumnavigate without relying on the "Disable Device" skill. This is where you just sit back and let the players come up with something, whether it's reasonable or hare-brained. You might need a skill check or a save along the way, but it's something you play by ear.

Traps and tricks are part of the challenge of the game, but they shouldn't be overused.

In answer to your illusion question, my ruling would be:

The PCs that aren't checking the floor don't get a will save versus the illusion. A rogue searching the floor for traps, though, would get the will save (or you could use the Search check in lieu of a save, much like a heal check can be used to replace a fort save for poisons). The first sod gets a Reflex save with a penalty to avoid falling through the fake floor. If other PCs witness this, they get a Will Save with a bonus when they see a companion disappear.

And in my mind, the Paladin stomping the illusionary floor would also need to make a Reflex save to avoid falling through because she's putting her weight on something nonexistent. Maybe a lower DC because she's not putting her full weight on it, but still...
25th-Aug-2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
And yet people complain that there are no illusions in 4e...

This is the problem with using illusions in games. They're awkward, and "interact with" is so vague as to be obvious (when you go to open the door your hand passes through the handle).

My favorite view of illusionary effects is the same as nviiibrown--they are real to people who believe them, and not otherwise. Of course, that can still be awkward, and isn't really supported by the rules in 3.5. Thus I tended to avoid illusions at all.

As to your specific example--that's what saving throws are for. By interacting with the floor (ie, walking on it), they get a Will save to notice it's an illusion. If they fail the save, they get a Reflex save to avoid the hidden PIT TRAP underneath it. Basically it's exactly the same as any other hidden pit trap, just with a harder spot DC and a possible Will save to notice.
25th-Aug-2008 07:59 pm (UTC)
I prefer using Will saves to disbelieve when something challenges the perception.

Example: a pit with a huge black pudding in it is concealed by an illusion of a pool of clear water. The pit is deep enough to keep the pudding from escaping, and the illusion gives the appearance that the pool is maybe 10 feet deep.

A character diving right in gets no will save -- he threw caution to the wind. However the illusion won't be effective for him once he falls through and lands in the pudding.

A character toeing the water gets a Will save depending on the strength of the illusion. If it's just visual, it'll be easier to disbelieve when the PC realizes his foot isn't wet. If instead he tries to scoop up some of the water to smell or taste, and the illusion is a visual only, it becomes all the more easy because two senses other than sight are being used (touch and smell/taste).

A PC dropping an item into the pool gets a will save as he sees the object fall through the bottom/disappear. It's a reason to disbelieve. Failure means the PC believes the illusion and possibly rationalizes the item's disappearance.
25th-Aug-2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
One option is to use actual games and puzzles. I had a magical maze that obscured the PCs in a mystical haze as soon as they went into it so they couldn't see or hear each other and in effect had to wander the maze alone.

Then I passed out photocopies of a maze from a maze book and instructed each player to solve it on her own. The first person to solve the maze was the first person to enter the room on the other side. The second person to solve entered the room in the second round, the third in the third round, and so on.

The kicker of course being that there is an encounter waiting for them in the room. The twist is that the person who finishes the maze first is 'rewarded' by being stuck on his own upon entering the room and has to wait for help.
25th-Aug-2008 11:22 pm (UTC)
What about the well that adds to your temporary level but summons a group of powerful enemies (in the wrong spot)? :P (That was in Kriegspire in MM6)
26th-Aug-2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
I remember running an adventure that had a statue that granted a permanent CHA bonus - basically you stood in front of it in a marked circle and said a phrase in Draconic to trigger the effect. There was an inscription around the edge of the circle that gave a clue as to the effect. Maybe you could adapt that idea for your wells? Put an inscription on them that gives a clue about what it does?

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