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View Full Version : traps in a game w/o rogues? Fair?



Forbiddenwar
2009-08-18, 08:51 PM
Some settings in a game realistically have traps and locked doors. Others need someone underhanded, some who can lie easily and misdirect npc's leading them to the wrong conclusions, and make small unattended items disappear.
However, how does a DM run a game like this with players who don't get more than 2-4 skill points per level? With no skill monkey to find and disable devices, is it fair to put them in a tomb of horrors style play, with little monstrs and lots of traps? What if the players choose to go there, knowing full well what they are in for?

Without any player who can handle skill encounters like this, should I, as the DM, remove them, losing that whole element to the game?

I'm asking for opinions, ideas. my group enjoys these elements a lot, but we have recently lost our skill monkey to scheduling difficulties, and probably won't be finding another. seems unfair to the players to put them in the situation where they need one. What do you think?

Yukitsu
2009-08-18, 08:55 PM
Take leadership, or go to town and hire a guy.

Jack_Simth
2009-08-18, 09:03 PM
Don't remove them - just do one or more of:
1) Tone them down (keep it to direct-damage below their CR, rather than Save-Or-Suck; the healer can clean up after if need be)
2) Remember that the builders will almost always want to be able to get past the traps at some point - realistically, every trap should have some simple method for getting past, be that a pass phrase, a hidden lock, or just knowing which floor tiles to step on. As most people don't build solo, if you search around enough, you should eventually find a map to the traps in somebody's old diary, a builder who's willing to share the knowledge for a price, or a local shepherd who's lost enough of his flock to the thing that he knows how to get past the first few layers.
3) Supply an NPC to deal with them (be that a hireling, a cohort, or something else).

Lochar
2009-08-18, 09:03 PM
Let the wizard/sorcerer retrain a feat to grab the Reserve feat for Summon Elemental.

At all time, have a small earth elemental walking ahead of you dragging a rather large bag of rocks. It'll set off every weighted trap ahead of time, and when the elemental dies, summon another, have it grab the bag, and keep on going.

Riffington
2009-08-18, 09:12 PM
Traps are puzzles, and it's foolish to get rid of them and remove that from your gameplay. Without a trapfinder, you can't throw quite as secret or deadly traps at the players - or rather you can, but then you just have to tone down the combat encounters since the traps will use so many more resources. Traps should be part of the game, and playing without a specialized trapmonkey actually makes them more fun rather than less.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-08-18, 09:32 PM
Read the Dungeonscape section on 'Traps as encounters'. It's great for traps in general, makes them more fun and more awesome, and renders them beatable(though hard) without a Rogue.

Forbiddenwar
2009-08-18, 11:17 PM
So far good advice about traps, but let me add some more information.

Search and spot are cross class skills for the remaining characters. There are no Arcane magic users in the party. Traps are only a part of the posted question, what about bluffs, theft, locks, searching, spots, languages, appraisals. No one in the party has positve intellegence modifiers.

Adding a cohort or NPC seems to be the best, a scout and face man. but would that work out? I don't do well with DMPCs. Any advice there?

BobVosh
2009-08-18, 11:21 PM
The cleric casts "Find Traps." He then proceeds to win the encounters with traps.

valadil
2009-08-18, 11:42 PM
Make them easier, but don't remove them entirely. Your players will find more creative ways to bypass the traps than simply letting the rogue roll his skill checks.

UserClone
2009-08-18, 11:49 PM
Just give everyone Trapfinding. Done and Done.

TheCountAlucard
2009-08-18, 11:57 PM
The Scout in my Friday games had decided not to put any ranks into Search, Disable Device, or Open Lock. The party just had to figure out other ways around the traps.

Trap 1: A spiky bar rigged to swing down and butcher people.
Solution: Warlock flies around to the other side of the trap and eldritch blasts the bar until it is in little pieces. Noticing that the bar was attempting to repair itself, the party resunders it, and brings some of the pieces with them.

Trap 2: Proximity-based trap releases swarms of zombified scorpions.
Solution: Party crams the bar pieces into the scorpion holes, and then use lamp oil and copious amounts of fire.

Trap 3: Stepping on tiles triggers bad things. Each tile's bad thing resets after 24 hours.
Solution: Healer uses his hand of the mage to drop little stones onto said tiles until the traps are sprung. Once every trap has gone off, the Healer does it a second time, just to be safe.

Trap 4: Double doors, when opened, trigger a cave-in.
Solution: The party decides not to take those doors.

Trap 5: Sarcophagus has several fake magic auras on it, hiding a one-time disintegrate triggered by opening the sarcophagus. Also, if the sarcophagus is moved, part of the roof collapses.
Solution: They definitely could've done better on this one. Duskblade uses his bag of tricks, a boar pops out. The two move the sarcophagus, and then he opens it... Luckily, I rolled fairly low for damage; he was alive and at -2 when the Healer got to him...

Serpentine
2009-08-19, 12:13 AM
As well as what everyone else said, but also consider making them more blatant puzzles than hidden spring-and-die traps. Make it about problem solving rather than skill ch-

No one in the party has positve intellegence modifiers.Wait, what? :smallconfused: Traps (at least of the type I'm thinking of) are intellectual exercises. Dunno what you can do without any intellectualism... Well, how's their wisdom? That could substitute reasonably well. Anyway, with that in mind, I'd go for more... practical problem solving, I suppose, rather than tricksy stuff. That is, I dunno, there's three bridges, and two of them will collapse if you stand on them, but there's a monster on the other side eager to get at you but not so eager to cross the gorge, what do you do? rather than, say, step on these stones in a certain mathematical sequence or be squished.


Traps are only a part of the posted question, what about bluffs, theft, locks, searching, spots, languages, appraisals. No one in the party has positve intellegence modifiers.Bluff and Sense Motive are untrained usable skills. Just don't set the DCs too high, and/or allow them to work out as many modifiers as they can (say, Intimidate or Charisma checks to assist the actual Bluff/Sense Motive check), and/or allow roleplay to have a bigger role (say, if they come up with a really good lie, let that contribute greatly to their roll).
Theft isn't necessarily sneaky, and there are magical options to assist in sneakiness if necessary. Have them invest heavily in potions of Silence and the like.
Searching and spots... I dunno what you could do about that. Maybe a couple of magic items (say, a magnifying glass for Search and a telescope or glasses for spot) to assist.
Languages, you could use magic items, roleplay (reasons to know a language, picking up bits and pieces as you go, etc), language dictionaries, or take a translator along.
Appraisals, you could have them develop some contacts, or use other skills such as Craft or Profession to give a bonus to the check.

Adding a cohort or NPC seems to be the best, a scout and face man. but would that work out? I don't do well with DMPCs. Any advice there?Based on my own experience (and noone's complained so far, and I do check periodically), it works to make your character just the same as you expect everyone else to make theirs, give them a personality that fades into the background a bit, and choose a class that will offer support to the others rather than do their jobs for them. I think in your case a Bard or Bard/Rogue might work? Maybe make him slightly spineless or simply weak-willed, so he's inclined to follow rather than lead, and focus his abilities (aside from the ones you need him for) on boosting the rest of the party.

Skorj
2009-08-19, 01:31 AM
Anyone with the scars from Gygaxian D&D will recognize the value of three pigs, painted different colors - far cheaper than a thief you just have to rez each week. Once you understand why it's important to paint them different colors, you'll have grasped the true horror of 1E. If you think this post is offtopic, you've just been living in luxury. In my day, we didn't survive finding traps ... :tongue:

Anyway, a search skill is just the easiest approach to traps, there are so many more that really the party has no excuse if they can't cope.

Saph
2009-08-19, 02:29 AM
The Scout in my Friday games had decided not to put any ranks into Search, Disable Device, or Open Lock. The party just had to figure out other ways around the traps.

This. Do it the old-school way. Instead of saying "I roll Search," "I roll Disable Device", just roleplay it out. Figure out a way to detect the trap (sheep help) then figure out a way to disable it by thinking.

Traps are actually much, much more fun if you make them into mini-puzzles than if you just roll dice every time.

TheCountAlucard
2009-08-19, 03:46 AM
This. Do it the old-school way. Instead of saying "I roll Search," "I roll Disable Device", just roleplay it out. Figure out a way to detect the trap (sheep help) then figure out a way to disable it by thinking.

Traps are actually much, much more fun if you make them into mini-puzzles than if you just roll dice every time.Humorously enough, though, the Scout does have a set of Masterwork Thieves' Tools.

On a related note, a few enemies of the PCs were following after the party, and triggered trap #4. :smallamused:

hewhosaysfish
2009-08-19, 08:08 AM
Once you understand why it's important to paint them different colors, you'll have grasped the true horror of 1E.

Teleportation traps?

Natael
2009-08-19, 10:27 AM
What I do for dungeons is make it based on how I envision the dungeon creator to have designed it. If the players want to get through the dungeon, it is up to them to deal with it. Not my problem if all of them wanted to play fighters, that is their choice and can improvise.

Getting hirelings is a good plan if you don't have a rogue/scout.

FoE
2009-08-19, 11:34 AM
Myself, I wouldn't eliminate traps from my game, but I would switch up the kinds of traps used. Avoid the "you trigger X, roll for damage " traps. Those are just an HP suck for the players if don't have any way of finding them. You might as well just tell the party to deduct X hit points every once in a while.

Instead, use the "painful death if you don't figure out how to get out of this room" variety of traps. Like the one where the walls start sliding towards each other to crush the PCs, or the room that slowly fills with water, sand, or poisonous gas. They have to bust open the door before they are crushed/suffocate/drown.

Or how about the statue with lazorz eyes that shoots at the player. Borrow a page from Dr. McNinja and include an inscription saying they need to shout out a solution to a riddle to get past it; in truth, shouting just lets the statue pinpoint their location.

Or the slide of doooooooom that drops out into a giant spider pit.

Or the classic Indiana Jones "rolling boulder" trap. Those are fun traps that the whole family party can get involved in!

Optimystik
2009-08-19, 11:41 AM
I'm in favor of the "lend them a rogue" solution. Since they all seem like combat types, keeping a plucky kender alive while he springs traps and lightens all their purses would be a great roleplaying opportunity.

FoE
2009-08-19, 11:46 AM
I'm in favor of the "lend them a rogue" solution. Since they all seem like combat types, keeping a plucky kender alive while he springs traps and lightens all their purses would be a great roleplaying opportunity.

The problem with that solution is that it involves using kenders, which are horrible little creatures that should be killed on sight.

I mean, granted, it is kind of amusing to pick up kenders and use them as shields. And it might be fun to push kenders into a pit and use their bodies as a bridge. But since that involves letting kenders live for a few hours rather than dying instantly at the end of your sword, it's not a plan I can support.

ericgrau
2009-08-19, 11:49 AM
Just go without a rogue. As the players in Another Gaming Comic (http://agc.deskslave.org) say, rogues are pretty much only good for finding traps and dying in them. We use other methods.

You should be able to deal with decent traps by other means. Take 20 on search checks, and search everything (2 minutes per 5 foot square), since 1/3 to 1/2 of traps are DC 20 regardless of CR. Non-rogues can find traps DC 20 or lower. Dwarves can find stone traps like a rogue. Detect magic can find the presence of magic traps (which are some of the DC >20 btw). If the DM has any halfway decent description of the trap, you should be able to disable it or get around it without disable device. Plug dart holes, blow it up, etc. Use weights, summons, etc. to go in before you do and trigger things. Get creative, have fun.

Curmudgeon
2009-08-19, 11:50 AM
Don't change a thing. There are some challenges that are harder for some characters than others, and the players need to learn to adapt -- or walk away. It should be their choice, so let them make it. An army of skeletons is trivial for a Cleric, and really tough for a bunch of specialist archers. You shouldn't change that, either.

Delaney Gale
2009-08-19, 11:51 AM
Why not try encounter traps? There was a particularly evil one my DM threw at us that couldn't be disabled with a Disable Device check, it could only be solved. The entry barred behind you, and the door at the other end could only be opened by finding the switch in one of numerous alcoves on the side of a room with flamethrowers shooting across it- one flamethrower going horizontally, the other vertically. The trap had an initiative, and on that initiative count, each flame moved to one of six lines in the 30x30 room.

It's still a trap, but it's one that doesn't need Disable Device or Open Lock to be fun and threatening.

DragoonWraith
2009-08-19, 11:54 AM
It might be worthwhile to ask them what they want - they seem to be heavily focused on combat - maybe all they want is a good hack'n'slash dungeon romp. In which case, focus your energies on coming up with interesting battles, rather than traps.

Umael
2009-08-19, 12:03 PM
My father was a paranoia-inducing first-edition D&D DM who made us specific what we were doing in great detail. By role-playing our way through a trap, we figured out how the trap worked and how to defeat it.

Make the traps DC 20 or less to find, so that they can find it if they take 20 (i.e., going slowly and carefully). Then describe in detail that interesting little bit they found, making them suspicious of that stone slab on the floor that is a little lower than the other stone slabs that make up the floor.

kc0bbq
2009-08-19, 12:20 PM
The "fairness" of it really depends on the system. In 4e, where traps have a broader mechanic, you don't need a Thievery skilled PC to handle them, there are plenty of alternatives without even having to step into the world of ad hoc judgement, though my PCs manage to suprise me....

For example, last session, there were some pretty nifty uses of mage hand and torches to temporarily neutralize an out-of-the-DMG magical crossbow turret trap. In 3e most of the traps people generally encounter are more or less immediate dangers, so trapfinding skills are a bit more warranted without magical interaction. In Over the Edge, traps can be even more, umm, unusual, so it pays to not go where you shouldn't be in the first place, especially if you're psychic or have magical powers. White Thought Generators make psychics' brain goo, but there are always creative ways for the GM to rescue the players. Everything's (un)fair on Al Amarja.

Though, repeated use of summoned creatures in 3e as your only method of finding traps would eventually lead to hot, hot Inevitable on PC action. The universe would take notice, it's its job.

Optimystik
2009-08-19, 12:41 PM
Don't change a thing. There are some challenges that are harder for some characters than others, and the players need to learn to adapt -- or walk away. It should be their choice, so let them make it. An army of skeletons is trivial for a Cleric, and really tough for a bunch of specialist archers. You shouldn't change that, either.

Those archers still have a chance against the skeletons (especially if they can pack holy water vials or other anti-undead weapons.) Without Trapfinding, the OP's players don't stand a chance of even detecting, never mind defeating, the devices.

FoE
2009-08-19, 12:59 PM
Those archers still have a chance against the skeletons (especially if they can pack holy water vials or other anti-undead weapons.) Without Trapfinding, the OP's players don't stand a chance of even detecting, never mind defeating, the devices.

While you and I disagree on the solution, I agree with the principle of your argument. If you use traps against PCs that have no way of countering them, you might as well tell the players to roll for damage every so often. Call it an "HP tax." It'll save you reading out a description of every trap the PCs will inevitably trigger.

DM: You walk down the corridor. An arrow shoots out at you from a slot in the wall! Roll for 2D6 damage.
PC: Yeah, yeah. (Rolls, marks on character sheet) OK, are we at the door now?

Sipex
2009-08-19, 01:04 PM
The "fairness" of it really depends on the system. In 4e, where traps have a broader mechanic, you don't need a Thievery skilled PC to handle them, there are plenty of alternatives without even having to step into the world of ad hoc judgement, though my PCs manage to suprise me....

For example, last session, there were some pretty nifty uses of mage hand and torches to temporarily neutralize an out-of-the-DMG magical crossbow turret trap.

Mage hand! I hear you loud and clear.

My players managed to avoid one trap because they knew kobolds were around so the wizard used his mage hand to open all the doors (while the party stood back of course)

I love seeing players come up with creative ways around traps and the like.

chiasaur11
2009-08-19, 01:07 PM
Though, repeated use of summoned creatures in 3e as your only method of finding traps would eventually lead to hot, hot Inevitable on PC action. The universe would take notice, it's its job.

Why?

Doesn't seem they'd be using enough celestial badgers in a year to slow the flow, and I can't remember any inevitable assigned to ensuring thieves guilds keep a steady cash flow.

arguskos
2009-08-19, 01:13 PM
Why?

Doesn't seem they'd be using enough celestial badgers in a year to slow the flow, and I can't remember any inevitable assigned to ensuring thieves guilds keep a steady cash flow.
No, but it would not be unreasonable to look at the given inevitables, and extrapolate that there is one dedicated to preventing abuse of summoned creatures. Given, this IS homebrew, but it is also well within reason. Just a thought.

As for traps in a game where you can't find them, I'll second Sstoopidtallkid's idea and suggest Encounter Traps. Make traps special, fun, and for the whole party.

Optimystik
2009-08-19, 01:40 PM
No, but it would not be unreasonable to look at the given inevitables, and extrapolate that there is one dedicated to preventing abuse of summoned creatures. Given, this IS homebrew, but it is also well within reason. Just a thought.

I don't see why any Inevitables would even notice, much less care, that a wary conjurer has a celestial monkey continually turning latches and opening chests for him. By the time he's reached a level where he can do that all day long, he would have innately earned the right to do so by virtue of his magical prowess, and no universal laws have been violated.

Kylarra
2009-08-19, 01:51 PM
I don't see why any Inevitables would even notice, much less care, that a wary conjurer has a celestial monkey continually turning latches and opening chests for him. By the time he's reached a level where he can do that all day long, he would have innately earned the right to do so by virtue of his magical prowess, and no universal laws have been violated.More to the point, even if there is one dedicated to such abuse, you'd need to be doing it far longer than the average duration of a campaign, as what's a century in the grand scheme of time?

Roukon
2009-08-19, 02:22 PM
I wouldn't take out traps completely. Just find a way for most of them to have a search DC of 20 or less. Non-rogues can find traps that way. It may be hard for them with few to no ranks in search, but they may get lucky.

kc0bbq
2009-08-19, 03:10 PM
More to the point, even if there is one dedicated to such abuse, you'd need to be doing it far longer than the average duration of a campaign, as what's a century in the grand scheme of time?What's the average duration of a campaign?

Continually summoning creatures with the sole intent of sending them to their doom by triggering all of the traps around you is going to eventually tickle the whiskers of some sort of inevitable if it continues on any sort of scale. Mindless, irrational Law isn't really concerned with time, it's concerned only with Law.

This isn't about the occasional summoning and sending ahead of a critter, it's about the suggestion to constantly and continually do it as suggested above. You may not be noticed at low levels, but at higher levels when things are paying attention to you, it's a whole different story.

On the OtE note, you could really get arcane classes shaking in their boots by porting over Empties. Suprise, you're permanently a commoner who didn't have to roll hp at level one and your feats are probably now useless to you! That would be evil.

Teron
2009-08-19, 03:20 PM
Continually summoning creatures with the sole intent of sending them to their doom back to their home plane by triggering all of the traps around you is going to eventually tickle the whiskers of some sort of inevitable if it continues on any sort of scale. Mindless, irrational Law isn't really concerned with time, it's concerned only with Law.
Summoned creatures can't die. They just poof back to wherever they came from, quite possibly pleased to have protected someone from a trap if they're celestial. Only called creatures are in any real danger.

Optimystik
2009-08-19, 03:32 PM
This isn't about the occasional summoning and sending ahead of a critter, it's about the suggestion to constantly and continually do it as suggested above. You may not be noticed at low levels, but at higher levels when things are paying attention to you, it's a whole different story.

Again, why? Inevitables care about violations of universal order; sending a Marut to assassinate a wizard that uses summon monster I to open doors for him is just ridiculous.

sonofzeal
2009-08-19, 03:41 PM
Again, why? Inevitables care about violations of universal order; sending a Marut to assassinate a wizard that uses summon monster I to open doors for him is just ridiculous.
Not as ridiculous as the one that hunts down violators of the wasteland.

Isn't there one dedicated to planar balance? If so, and assuming there aren't that many major threats to the planes at any given moment, it's possible that one would interpret its mandate rather harshly (a valid Inevitable "mistake"), and prosecute some minor infractions like abuse of summoned monsters that we as mortals wouldn't consider significant. Nothing is insignificant to an Inevitable...

Optimystik
2009-08-19, 03:49 PM
Isn't there one dedicated to planar balance? If so, and assuming there aren't that many major threats to the planes at any given moment, it's possible that one would interpret its mandate rather harshly (a valid Inevitable "mistake"), and prosecute some minor infractions like abuse of summoned monsters that we as mortals wouldn't consider significant. Nothing is insignificant to an Inevitable...

If the creatures were Called, I could see that, but summoned creatures have a net effect of zero on planar balance.

Besides, kc's argument was that it would be right and just for such a conjurer to be hunted by Inevitables, not that the Inevitables would do so in error.

Kylarra
2009-08-19, 03:56 PM
What's the average duration of a campaign?

Continually summoning creatures with the sole intent of sending them to their doom by triggering all of the traps around you is going to eventually tickle the whiskers of some sort of inevitable if it continues on any sort of scale. Mindless, irrational Law isn't really concerned with time, it's concerned only with Law.
Other than possibly some mild trauma, they aren't "going to their doom". Summoned creatures reform on their home planes after "dying" or the spell's duration expires... :smallconfused: So net issues are pretty much zero.

RagnaroksChosen
2009-08-19, 04:01 PM
i think you should keep them. The world doesn't bend around the fact that they don't have any rogues. drop traps from some wher that would obviously have traps and you loose immersion. I would keep them.. Even ones that are hard to by pass. I would prep your dungeons the same way regardless of rogues.

Remeber most traps can be over come even if it requires the barbarian to walk into it. or to hold the 10 foot pole to see if it goes off... There's a wonder full list of ways to over come traps its called the mundane item list.
In my day rogues didn't have disable device they figured out how to disable the device.

Jack_Simth
2009-08-19, 05:02 PM
Other than possibly some mild trauma, they aren't "going to their doom". Summoned creatures reform on their home planes after "dying" or the spell's duration expires... :smallconfused: So net issues are pretty much zero.
If they're killed, they reform on their home plane... 24 hours later. Summoning and slaughtering a horde of critters from a given plane makes for a great precursor to an invasion due to that little quirk:

Summoning

A summoning spell instantly brings a creature or object to a place you designate. When the spell ends or is dispelled, a summoned creature is instantly sent back to where it came from, but a summoned object is not sent back unless the spell description specifically indicates this. A summoned creature also goes away if it is killed or if its hit points drop to 0 or lower. It is not really dead. It takes 24 hours for the creature to reform, during which time it canít be summoned again.

When the spell that summoned a creature ends and the creature disappears, all the spells it has cast expire. A summoned creature cannot use any innate summoning abilities it may have, and it refuses to cast any spells that would cost it XP, or to use any spell-like abilities that would cost XP if they were spells. (Emphasis added)

Do note, though, that unless you're using the "specific creature" summoning variant, it doesn't matter that the one you just pulled up gets killed - you're grabbing a different arbitrary critter.

Je dit Viola
2009-08-19, 05:14 PM
Speaking of traps that could be done without rogues, I've earned an idea that is not necessarily a trap:

An ancient statue is blocking a door, impossible to get past (pretty much, except maybe blowing everything up) and there's a note or something on the bottom of the statue - it says "In order to pass this trial, you must sacrifice all the sheep in this dungeon in front of this statue, all at the same time, or reap the consequences." In the dungeon are 3 sheep, with BIG RED numbers marked on them - 1, 2, and 4. They find the sheep with 4 on it first- so they keep on looking for 'Sheep 3' in order to pass...(insert evil laugh)!

Kylarra
2009-08-19, 05:15 PM
If they're killed, they reform on their home plane... 24 hours later. Summoning and slaughtering a horde of critters from a given plane makes for a great precursor to an invasion due to that little quirk:
Not really unless you're mustering up a whole crapload of casters to burn all of their spell slots on summoning and CdGing their own summons, and even then, I wager it wouldn't account for more than a small percent of the actual forces you'd encounter were you to try to invade a plane, and of course as you pointed out, still marginally useless unless you're dealing with specific summons.

Skorj
2009-08-19, 05:55 PM
Teleportation traps?

Yup. :smallbiggrin: And mechanical equivalents like rotating rooms and the like. Sometimes you get need to send a pig down each of three hallways, and the only way you can tell later which one survived was its color, as it comes back down a different hallway just to mess with you.

Godskook
2009-08-19, 06:52 PM
My current DM has presented us with what appears to be the second 'trap for non-rogues', as best I can tell what they are. The first is thus:

A room which is apparently empty, except for the walls, floor and ceiling. Upon entering the room, the group discovers that there are additional 'walls' that are invisible. The room would've been quite interesting, had I not spent a semester in school learning how to teach a lego mindstorm robot how to navigate such a room.

Basically, my advice is to build your traps like old-school atari/nintendo games.