Ancient alien ruins and corporate offices alike are rife with
traps and defense mechanisms meant to protect valuable
goods, personnel, and information. Additionally, adventuring
characters sometimes encounter situations that, while not
intentionally set up as traps, are just as dangerous—an unshielded
power conduit in a damaged ship could prove deadly to those who
aren’t careful, as could an unbalanced grav plate that might fling
the unwary into a wall at high speeds. Whether the presentation
of such dangers is intentional, accidental, or simply situational, all
are represented using the same set of rules.
Detecting a Trap
A character can search for traps using the search task of the
Perception skill. Compare the searching character’s Perception
check result to the trap’s Perception DC. On a success, the
character detects the trap.
Triggering a Trap
All traps have a defined trigger. If the characters fail to locate
a trap while exploring an area, the trap might be triggered by a
standard part of traveling, such as stepping on a floor plate or
moving through a magical sensor. Some traps instead have touch
triggers. These traps trigger only when a character deliberately
takes an action that directly manipulates the environment—by
opening a door or pulling a chain, for example.
Disabling a Trap
Characters can attempt to disable analog and technological traps
with the Engineering skill, magical traps with the Mysticism
skill, and most hybrid traps with either skill. Some traps require
other skills to deactivate—for example, if a trap is controlled
by a computer system’s control module, characters must use
the Computers skill to hack the control module to prevent the
computer from triggering the trap. For some traps, more than
one skill can be used to disable them; often, these skill checks
have different DCs and different results (which may not entirely
disable the trap). Other traps require multiple skill checks to
completely deactivate. The skills required to disable a trap (and
the method of deactivation) are listed in the trap’s stat block.
A character must first detect a trap in order to attempt to
disable it, since only through observing particular details about
the trap can the character know the proper countermeasures.
Even if a trap has already been triggered, characters can still
attempt to deactivate the trap. Some traps no longer pose a
danger once they’ve been triggered, but the PCs might be able
to stop the trap’s ongoing effects, if any. Other traps might not
have ongoing effects, but reset over a period of time; characters
can still attempt to disable the trap during this time.
Characters gain experience points (XP) for overcoming a trap,
whether they disable it, detect and then avoid it, or simply endure
its effects. The XP for a trap is equal to the XP for a monster of the
same CR (see Table 11–3: Experience Point Awards on page 390).
Elements of a Trap
Traps are presented in stat blocks with the following information;
entries marked “optional” appear only if relevant.
- Name and CR: This shows the trap’s name and CR.
- XP: This indicates the amount of XP characters receive for
overcoming the trap.
- Type: A trap can be analog, magical, technological, or a
hybrid of magical and technological. Analog traps don’t
use any advanced technology or electrical power sources.
Magical traps harness mystic energy to produce unusual
effects. Technological traps use computers to bring other
electronic machinery and weaponry to bear against their
victims. Hybrid traps meld magic and technology together.
- Perception: This is the DC to find the trap using Perception.
- Disable: This is the DC to disable the trap using the listed skill
- Trigger: A trap’s trigger determines how it is set off. Unless
otherwise noted, creatures smaller than Tiny do not normally
set off traps. There are several ways to trigger a trap.
Location: A location trigger goes off when a creature
enters a specific area.
Proximity: A proximity trigger activates when a creature
approaches within a certain distance of the trap. Proximity
triggers can detect creatures through various methods (as
noted in parentheses). For example, a proximity (visual) trigger
goes off if it can see the target, a proximity (auditory) trigger
activates if enough noise occurs near it, and a proximity
(thermal) trigger detects creatures’ body heat.
Touch: A touch trigger goes off when a creature touches
or tries to use a trapped item (such as a computer console).
- Initiative (Optional): Some traps roll initiative to determine
when they activate in a combat round.
- Duration (Optional): If a trap has a duration longer than
instantaneous, that is indicated here. Such a trap continues to
produce its effect over multiple rounds on its initiative count.
- Reset: This lists the amount of time it takes for a trap to reset
itself automatically; an immediate reset takes no time, which
means the trap can trigger every round. Some traps have a
manual reset, which means that someone must reset the trap
manually. A trap with a reset entry of “none” is a single-use
trap. Even if a trap resets, the group can get XP for overcoming
it only once. PCs can attempt to disable a trap during its reset
period at much lower risk than normal, since there’s no danger
of setting off the trap; they can even take 20 (see page 133), as
long as they can finish taking 20 before the trap resets!
- Bypass (Optional): Some traps have a bypass mechanism that
allows the trap’s creator or other users to temporarily disarm
the trap. This can be a lock (requiring a successful Engineering
check to disable), a hidden switch (requiring a successful
Perception check to locate), a hidden lock (requiring a successful
Perception check to locate and a successful Engineering check
to disable), or some other method (such as a keypad that
requires either the correct passcode or a successful Computers
check to hack). Details of the bypass mechanism and any skill
check necessary to activate the bypass are listed in this entry.
- Effect: This lists the effect the trap has on those that trigger
it. This usually takes the form of an attack, a damaging effect,
special effects (for example, mind-altering gases). Some traps
(especially those with durations) have an initial effect, which
occurs on the round the trap is triggered, and a secondary
effect, which occurs on subsequent rounds. This entry notes
the trap’s attack bonus (if any), the damage the trap deals,
which saving throw the target must attempt to avoid or reduce
the trap’s effects, and any other pertinent information.
Multiple Targets: A trap normally affects only a single
creature (usually the one that triggered it); if a trap affects
multiple targets, this entry notes which targets are affected.
Never Miss: Some traps can’t be avoided. Such a trap has no
attack bonus or a saving throw to avoid (though it might allow
a saving throw to reduce damage). It always has an onset delay.
Onset Delay: Some trap effects do not occur immediately. An
onset delay is the amount of time between when the trap is
sprung and when it deals damage.
Designing a Trap
To design a new trap, decide what CR you want the trap to have and
consult Table 11–14: Trap Statistics on page 412 for guidance on the
various statistics of a trap at that CR. These are only guidelines,
however. Feel free to adjust a trap’s statistics, though you should
avoid changing these numbers to values corresponding to a CR
more than 2 higher or lower than the trap’s CR.
- Perception and Disable DCs: All traps require Perception and
disable DCs. If the trap requires multiple checks to disable,
use the DC for a trap with a CR 2 lower than your trap. If the
trap has a bypass mechanism, use this DC for detecting and
disabling the bypass as well.
- Initiative: If it is important when your trap acts in combat, use
this bonus to calculate the trap’s initiative.
- EAC/KAC: If the mechanical parts of your trap can be attacked,
these values help determine how easy they are to hit.
- Good and Poor Saves: If PCs use special attacks that can
target objects against the trap, these values can be used for
the trap’s Fortitude and Reflex saves. You decide which is a
good save and which is a poor save for your trap. Traps don’t
normally need Will saves, but if necessary, a trap’s Will save
is a poor save.
- HP: Crucial parts of some traps can be damaged and should
have the listed number of Hit Points. Traps are immune to
anything an object is immune to unless otherwise noted. Traps
also have hardness based on their material. A trap reduced
to 0 HP is destroyed. Destroying a trap might set off a final
component of the trap, like an explosion. Traps never have
- Attack and Damage: The table lists the trap’s attack bonus and
its average damage, if any, but consider reducing this damage
if a trap has multiple attacks or affects multiple targets.
- Save DC: If a trap affects its victims by means of an area effect,
a spell, a poison, or another special ability, use the listed DC for
the appropriate saving throw.
Table 11-14: Trap Statistics
|CR||PERCEPTION DC||DISABLE DC||INITIATIVE||EAC/KAC||GOOD SAVE||POOR SAVE||HP||ATTACK||DAMAGE||SAVE DC|