Snare traps can be a fun and simple addition to your DnD game. Despite their simple nature, they add a lot of excitement without adding a ton of danger. Snares are usually a big problem for creatures without opposable thumbs, but for humanoids they can often get themselves out of simple snares. However, this doesn’t mean the traps aren’t effective in other ways.
How Do Snares Work?
Snares are simple noose or slip knots made out of rope, cord, or wire. When a creature steps into the loop, they become ensnared by pulling away from it, tightening the loop around their foot and becoming unable to escape without first loosening the snare. This works really well on animals because they often don’t have the means to loosen the knot and simply cannot escape.
The most common large improvement on the snare trap is to add some sort of driving mechanic to it that will tighten the snare once triggered. In some cases you will even have snares that will hoist their victims off the ground, making the trap much harder to escape. These usually work using a weight and what is known as hook trigger.
A hook trigger has three parts. First is the anchor. This piece is typically a stake or some other notched piece affixed to the ground. The anchor must be able to hold the full force of the weight. The weight opposes the anchor, so if a stake is used for the anchor, a weight that is too heavy will pull the stake up.
Next is the hook. This is another notched piece that fits into the anchor and is attached to both the snare and the line holding the weight. This hook is atypical in that it is made to easily come off the anchor if disturbed. Usually the hook and the anchor won’t have more than a 90 degree angle on either of them and can slip off each other if the snare is pulled on.
The hook trigger activates when someone pulls the snare, the hook slips off the anchor and frees the weight. As the weight falls, the line tightens and pulls the victim up, firmly constricting the snare around their foot.
Using Snare Traps on Your Players
A snare is such a simple trap that it often gets overlooked when considering them for dungeon design. Typically snares are something you consider in the forest, places where they can be easily concealed with vines and leaves. Regardless of classic tropes, snares can still play an active roll in dungeons as well. Using thin, metal cords can make them harder to detect in a dark dungeon. Hooks and weights can be concealed in stone work. Let’s consider some combinations.
Snares and Bells
Combining a snare trap with an alarm makes for a fun challenge right away. The players don’t take any damage from being trapped, but they need to get down and escape quickly before enemies show up for a fight. Starting combat in a snare is challenging to say the least, and you’re a sitting duck for any ranged attacks that might reach you. This can serve to increase tension in scenarios where players are trying to avoid combat.
Spikes on Ceiling
Players always expect spikes in a pit, but with snare traps you can have them “fall up” and hit spikes on the ceiling! This is a simple subversion of a classic pit trap. This one can even be slightly worse than a pit because you are stuck on the spikes until you can cut yourself down, so it’s definitely a more punishing surprise.
Catch and Release
You may not want to fix your players to their snare. Instead, you can have the rope on the weight disengage after the player reaches the peak of their lift. The damage for this trap comes from the fall after being hoisted into the air. If you want to increase the danger of this trap, simply increase the height of the room and the trap can drop them from further up.
Captivating Players with Snare Traps
These traps are simple and not too punishing for your players. A snare makes a lot sense in dungeon design and does what most traps miss: it actually traps the player in the literal sense of the word. Try putting snare traps in your next session and hoist your heroes to new heights!