On the Thursday Trick, Agency and Melee Traps

Weapon Trap (Melee Attacks)

Trigger: Mechanical: Tripwire or Trigger WireEffects: N/A
Save:Armor Class Duration: Instant
Resets: ManualBypass: Disarm

Description: These are most often triggered by tripwires, this causes a melee weapon such as a log, axe, blade, spikes, or scythe to shoot or swing out, cutting, smashing, or impaling characters. Variations include triggers that caused timed attacks, poison on the blades, or magically enhanced blades.

Detection/Disarming: This is the second most frequent 'trap tax' type of trap, where player agency is put second to the random roll of 'is the trap found.' (The most frequent is the arrow trap). Let's take a step through the ways we can restore agency to this venerable trap.
  • The prototypical dead body.
  • Cracked walls or cut walls, stained with blood. This can be the result from the trap being triggered.
  • Often there is either a open or plaster covered space in which the weapon rests. This option can be particularly stealthy when there is a small passage (big enough for an arm, say) that contains the weapon within this passage. This is very hard to detect. 
  • Bits and chunks of metal from destroyed armor. Unless the hallway is swept, damage from previous victims should be discoverable. 
  • If the weapon is on any sort of metal swing, such as a buzz saw or an axe blade, then there should be the scent of oil on the air. Likewise for a log attached to a rope, the smell of wood should be out of place in a dank dungeon. 
Any other suggestions or ideas for melee weapon trap agency?

2 comments:

  1. Mechanical traps need a way to reset them, and probably to maintain the mechanism or disarm it for maintenance. If that can be done from the same side of the wall/floor as the trap there may be evidence of an access point, or perhaps a tool in a nearby area that would be used to push the blade back in place and lock it; if it's done from the other side the walls may sound hollow or mapping and exploration might reveal hint there's a hidden space that could serve that purpose.

    Simple variation in construction technique or materials could alert the players. It needn't be as blatant as a chessboard on the floor where everywhere else is unfinished stone, but if a corridor has dressed stone or plaster painted to look like stone where nearby areas are hewn rock, that's suspicious.

    Unless they're devised by Lord Vetinari the creatures responsible for creating and maintaining them are going to want to be able to easily remember where they are and how to bypass them. That might be unobtrusive markings, or something like a smooth door handle is a trapped area while a twisty one is safe, or if the first torch sconce is on the left wall it's safe. Or maybe just pattern: every third door in a certain stretch has a trap (as long as there's a consistent way to count them...not suggesting that every third door the players happen to run across is trapped.)

    Evidence of a trap might come from senses other than visual; even if the corridor is swept clean of prior victims, the smell of their blood, bowels, or fear might linger...particularly if you're an elf or some other type with keen senses.

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