On a Thursday Trick: Mirrors

Mirror Trick (Category: Special, Restraints/Hazards)

Trigger: Mechanical: Light Detection
Mechanical: Interaction
Magical: Proximity
Magical: Touch

Effects:
Multiple Targets
Save: Petrification/Polymorph
None
Duration: Varies

Resets: AutomaticBypass: Special


Description: Mirrors are a powerful tool, frequently overlooked and forgotten by dungeon designers. Consider mirrored walls, at a distance, strange figures that are difficult to make out. In a room with mirrors, distances can be confusing and surprising. It can be difficult to locate a target.
A mirror trap can be simulated by simply having each appropriate mirror face present another location for monsters the players can see.


Mirrors at the end of hallways confuse mappers, and frequently draw aggressive reactions. Hide something deadly behind a mirror and wait for a panicky player with a crossbow to unleash it on a party.
Magical mirrors are always useful. A covered mirror could be a mirror of life trapping. Mirrors that travel to other mirrors, or hide reverse of rooms or dungeons, or act as scrying devices all have a precedent in fantasy.
Mirror opponents, duplicates but in reverse created by the mirror are a classic opponent. How does the character beat himself? There's even an old transcription of a game in the 70's where a journalist comments on encountering a mirror that made a fighter fight his reflection.
"Mirrors" can represental portals to a similar dimension, requiring you to take some action in this world to cause an event to occur in the other—pull a lever, push a pressure plate, smash an obstacle.

Detection/Disarming: The important thing with maintaining agency about mirrors is making sure that you describe to the player exactly what they see and how it responds to them. You should work this out ahead of time (as above). Intelligent characters will ask questions and draw the correct conclusions. Reducing solving a puzzle like this to a roll should only be used for people unwilling to engage in exploratory play due to insecurity.
Only use these tricks to protect optional treasure or areas. Don't ever require a trick or puzzle as described as above as necessary to advance play.

Consider also this trapped mirror from an earlier article, Tim Short's take on a mirror leading to a mirror universe, and this list of Mirror Effects from Aeons & Arguries.

The Tricks and Traps series examines original and classic traps discussing how to present the traps while maintaining the agency of the players. A complete list of sources and inspiration may be found here. The Tricks and Traps Index page contains a complete listing of all the tricks and traps on this site, or you may browse by tags.



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