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 Post subject: Making Traps Fun
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:01 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer
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Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:00 pm
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Location: Eugene, OR
FLGS: Fun Again Games
Maybe there's no answer to this question, but how can I make traps more fun for my players? They just feel like a 'gotcha' or a lame game of Simon Says, as in: "You die... because you forgot to say 'I search for traps'!" They are very anti-climactic compared to combat and never seem to advance the plot. Yeah, I love the Grimtooth books, but only as a funny read and not in actual game play. I am always tempted to write them out of the script, which makes the Thief class less useful to the party and violates the OSR canon. Does anybody have any ideas for making traps more interesting?

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 Post subject: Re: Making Traps Fun
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:05 pm 
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I think the best way to handle traps is either as its own encounter with more than one check to disarm it or as terrain threats in a combat encounter. Otherwise, it's just a HP tax that matters not a whit (although in DCC, downtime healing still runs at least a small risk for the cleric and so is not as free and easy as in other systems.)

Traps are a trope that won't be going away. I love them but hate if they grind progress to a halt. If PCs feel your traps are "gotcha" traps, they will needlessly proceed in five foot increments with a ten foot pole. No fun.

Better to give ample clues that a trap might be around and if they solve or bypass it, better for them.

I bookmarked this page a while back. It has some interesting things to say about designing traps.

http://dmsage.com/2015/08/how-to-design-a-quality-trap/


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 Post subject: Re: Making Traps Fun
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:50 am 
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One way of improving them is tying them to objects the players desire. The boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark is a good example: there was a treasure, Indy took the risk, failed his disarm trap check, then had to run and use the environment to avoid it. It was a deliberately taken risk.

Did you notice anything interesting about the boulder? It didn't happen suddenly. It took some time. Falling into a pit is a nuisance. Escaping is jut a waste of time. Falling into a pit with a slowly closing top that starts getting filled with water and piranhas is a threat. Escapiing from it is a challenge, not just a simple save roll.

Hints can also make your traps more than simple "save vs suck" effects. There was a bright humanoid silhouette on a blackened wall. Obviously a fire trap. But where is it? The first player cautiously checked the tiles in front of the trap, didn't find anything and proceeded. The next tile was the one that activated the trap and scorched the back of the party.

Making something seem out of place will also help. In the same dungeon as above there was a skeleton with arrows. This dungeon didn't have any monsters. The PCs saw no holes on the wall. How is it possible? Fortunately someone touched it and realized it's an illusion: there was a tunnel behind it with a wall at the end that had arrow holes.

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 Post subject: Re: Making Traps Fun
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:50 pm 
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I have (somewhat) recently made some traps...

One was just plainly obvious as a trap. A Find Traps ability might reveal just how it is a threat, but the fact that something is up, is obvious.

Another was an effect that would impact one character at a time... Then it's a matter of "Finding" it and figuring out how to avoid it, or disarm it.

But I can't remember in recent years running a trap that was truly, completely hidden and affected the whole party or had a major, quick impact. Usually more of a slow burning effect that you can get out of, then work on, or something that's obvious before you even get close.

This let's traps have some impact, but also gives the Thief plenty to do... And there's no more "gotcha" to it, than an ambush by orcs or something.

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 Post subject: Re: Making Traps Fun
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:55 am 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer
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Solution: Give clues so the trap is more like a puzzle. Thank you!

Follow up: How do you use the Detect Trap skill of thieves? If the clues are there to indicate that something's up, is Detect Trap only used to confirm the suspicion? If there are enough clues, the party will already 'know' there is a trap, which means the thief is ready to make a Disable Trap roll. Does it take two rolls to disable the trap, one to 'officially' detect it and another to disable it? For example, in the Tower of the Black Pearl there is a spear trap that the characters actually watch re-arm as the spear retracts into the wall after they arrive. Isn't Detect Trap made redundant by giving clues?

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 Post subject: Re: Making Traps Fun
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:44 am 
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brainszine wrote:
...Isn't Detect Trap made redundant by giving clues?

You could have some traps that are completely hidden, but definitely I'd encourage you to mix it up.

But -- I'd also point out plenty of folks take their car in to get it fixed because there is a problem with it that they can only describe as a noise or a weird thing it sometimes does.... The mechanic then has to Find the problem, as well as Disable the problem.

Just knowing that there is a problem/trap isn't always enough to make it obvious what it is, how it works, and what it'll take to make it all fine and safe. :wink:

Also, Indy was obviously pretty certain that that little golden idol was trapped, but evidently he's not a Thief, or he didn't bother to Find Trap. If he had been able to do so, and had done it, he might have known about the boulder and possibly had a better chance at preventing the whole problem. In Indy's case, he probably knew there was some kind of trap before he ever set foot in there, knowing about it from some old journal or from other similar sites he'd already visited. But I guess this one was of a larger magnitude than he expected...

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Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

Link: Here Be DCC Monsters


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