two traps

Not One, But Two Traps

What’s better than one trap? Two traps! Today’s examples will be looking at running traps in parallel to make them more dangerous.

Doubling Up on One Trap

The concept we’re looking at is simple, but highly effective. Let’s start directly with an example: You have a pit trap, and just after it is another pit trap. The player jumping over the first one they see will end up falling into the second. This simple trick works with just about any standard trap. One snare is good, two snares is better. Spike traps follow the same rules.

How to Make Two Traps Effective

The trick here is that the second trap should have a higher DC to spot, not that player can’t dodge the second trap. By chaining these this way, the players see the first trap that is more obvious and will not notice the second more well concealed trap. The best rolls from your players are the ones that fall between the two DCs; having players roll above or below both isn’t bad, it just illustrates different ways the traps can go off or be avoided.

How Punishing to Make the Two Traps

This is where your players’ health, level, and general sense of cockiness come into play. Since the first trap is obvious, you might want to set it up so the first trap isn’t bad, but the following trap is much worse. Alternatively, you might want the traps the be exactly the same, but that does not illustrate the trap maker’s intent very well. If they are different, it shows the trap maker intended the first trap as a decoy, and the second as the real trap. If they are equal, it shows the trap maker’s first trap became obvious over time as it got more use. These tell very different and subtle stories that your players may or may not think about.

We will never encourage you to make a trap that can outright kill a party member at full health. They should instead be devices that wear down your party. Generally speaking, it’s not fun to kill a player because of one bad roll. It’s the same concept as “save or die” spells. They have their place, but they are typically not fun and should be avoided in most scenarios. Remember to look at your players’ average health and adjust your traps so that they could kill a wounded hero who is not careful, but not a full health party.

When Not to Use These Traps

Parallel traps are a good trick used sparingly. If you do this too much you will make paranoid adventurers. This type of trap set up is perfect for players that have no fear of traps or decide to press on brashly. This works really well when you have one player that charges forward without consulting the group. These kind of traps work as a way to allow your players to resolve this conflict through role play instead of actual meta arguments.

These traps can be great fun, but ultimately this is a gimmick meant to add a a bit of flavor or excitement to your normal traps. When sprinkled in sparingly, this might be just what your party needs to get over their slump of hum-drum traps. Happy DMing!