On the Thursday Trick, The Fatal Illusionary Death Corridor


Fatal Illusionary Death Corridor (Restraints/Hazards)

Trigger: VariesEffects:Poison
Multiple Targets
Save:Armor Class
Poison/Death
Spells
Duration: Varies
Resets: AutomaticBypass:Special

Description: This trap is simple. They players are in a confined space. A devastating environmental hazard is barreling down the center of the corridor, like the cleaners, a boulder, or a giant saw blade. There is enough room to the side of the corridor to avoid the device.

Those who "Duck out of the way," "Dodge" or "Reflex save" to avoid the trap, spring it on themselves. The walls are jagged and covered with sharp metal flanges and spikes. These are coated with a thick poison. Anyone throwing themselves out of the way is attacked by the spikes and poisoned to death.

How to avoid the trap then? The deadly onrushing object? Nothing but an illusion.

Detection/Disarming: There are several steps one must take in presenting this trap to players to maintain agency, and one tricky part to navigate.

The first is the jagged, spiked nature of the corridor must be apparent. It can be subtle, the spikes need not be the size of ink pens, they can be smaller and more needle like, but if so, this should provide a huge bonus to the save for anyone in heavy armor.

It is also very likely along the sides of the corridor there will be corpses or other signs of dead creatures.

There should be at least a single word in the description of the object to indicate it's chimerical nature. For instance, an onrushing boulder could be described in any of the following ways.
  • There is a click and forty feet ahead of you a large boulder, seven feet in diamater appears at the edge of your torch light. It's rolling quickly towards you, at a deadly speed. The terrifying noise of stone grating against stone gives you pause as you imagine your bodies being crushed between the boulder and the floor as it continues to roll down the preternaturally still corridor towards you and your inevitable doom. What do you do? 5. . . 4. . . . 3. . . .
  • A dark shape appears out of the corridor ahead. It is a stone, larger then the tallest among you. It rolls towards you as fast as a running man, silently, as the halls will be after your demise. What do you do? 5. . .4. . .
  • Ahead, you see a huge boulder rolling towards you. It came out of the darkness ahead and is rolling faster and faster towards the party. It passes over everything in it's way!
These are simply specific verbal cues you can give players to allow them the opportunity to disbelieve (that is, make the save with the bonus).

Regardless, when exposed to the actual danger from the deadly onrushing object, they get their save versus illusion.

The biggest pitfall when presenting a trap like this is the minor control over player actions. If they 'dodge out of the way' does this necessarily mean they've exposed themselves to the spikes?

There are two important factors here. First is that the players of the characters feel pressure to make a decision.  I personally maintain this tension at the table by starting the count at five while also holding up my hand with fingers extended. Then saying four, and listening to player responses.

I am not actually counting down seconds. I stop verbally stating numbers at four, and lower just the finger to three, and then wait for responses. The idea is to make the players feel time pressure, not actually not give them enough time to make a decision. If they hem and haw, then feel free to lower another finger to two, but keep your hand held up as you go around and take actions from the players at the table. Another option is to have the count at three for each person and as you do question and response, lower the count by one.

When they go around the room and say "Can I duck out of the way?" or "I try to duck to the side." etc. you can reply "It looks like you have enough room if you press yourself up against the wall, is that what you wish to do?"

Finally, narrate the results of their choices. Remember, as you go round robin, I do not suggest going back and letting players change their options.

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