On Searching for Traps

So I've been playing a lot of Oblivion lately. One of the things that Oblivion has a heads up on Morrowind over are the excellent immersiveness of its dungeons.

These dungeons are filled with traps.

The kind where you can instantly die if you're not paying attention. There are no monsters around, I'm being careful. How often do I die to these traps?

A lot.

This says a real bit of something about players who always claim they search for traps. Because I'm searching for traps.

What's really interesting is what exactly is going through my mind when I trip these traps.

First, there are plenty of visual clues that there is a trap there. I'm busy exploring an Ayleid ruin. Large chamber is up ahead. I move forward, shining my torch in the nooks and crannies, searching for hidden enemies when suddenly the floor slams me into the ceiling.

I reload, and wouldn't you know it, there is a giant bloodstain on the floor, and if I look at the ceiling, I sure as heck see spikes (though they are at the limit of my light radius). Why did I fall for this trap? Because there hadn't been one in a while, and the real danger was the monsters. I was intent on discovering if any of those damn spectral warriors were going to run up and murder me, so I was busy doing a sweep of the room.

I don't fall for them all, not even most of them, but I'm surprised enough. It's hard to stay focused, and it's boring to spend hours going over each section of dungeon looking for secret doors and traps. And, you can't spend all your focus on looking at the walls and floor, or you'll quickly get murdered by a Grue in the dark. I even have an advantage in that I know that there are only a limited number of trap types, and it's still a challenge to locate them all.

For those players who are busy always searching for traps, have a monster sneak up on their distracted selves.

The point is that players assume that everything is obvious and apparent. The issue is, it isn't a bare room. Even if the room is empty, there are nooks and different brickwork, and likely an uneven floor, and it's dark because you're underground and your only light comes from a torch.The signs of traps you're looking for look remarkably like the way the walls are already designed. The longer you take, the more likely it is you'll be found. It's not as simple as just, you know, seeing everything all at once.

Dungeon Delving: It's harder than it looks.


  1. Dungeon Delving: It's harder than it looks.

    So your advice is to look harder?

  2. Heh. If I had advice it would be to slow down.

    Mostly I just wanted to make the point that these are complicated architectural spaces, where it can take a loooong time to exhaustively check.


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