Mind Flayer Lair

I came up with this dungeon when my players wandered into hex C2-20 in the classic Dungeons & Dragons adventure Descent Into the Depths of the Earth, a great old adventure which encourages DMs to fill inthe blank encounter areas with dungeons of one’s own design.

One of the players was playing a Warlock with the Far Ones pact, and I wanted to introduce a re-occurring Mind Flayer antagonist who would be a contact for the Warlock for their pact. The result was a nasty little dungeon filled with traps and horrors. When the Mind Flayer within contacted the warlock telepathically to offer magical secrets the Player Characters followed them right in.

mind flayer lair

The evil architects of this stronghold forced their slaves to build it as a spiraling trap, with a raised, hidden central area from which they could use their psychic powers on hapless intruders. As their prey make their way through the outer areas, encountering the mind-controlled slaves who dwell there, the Mind Flayers will lurk, peering through hidden peep-holes to use mind blasts and charm powers on their victims. If discovered, the Mind Flayers will retreat up 20 foot vertical shafts to the central passages and behind further secret doors.

Posted in 1st edition D&D, 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, Adventure, Fantasy, Location, Lore / Worldbuilding, rules agnostic, Trap and tagged by with no comments yet.

Banquet of Horrors

jeweledflatwareIn sumptuous banquet hall in the Tower of Zards, the walls are festooned with skeletons in manacles. On a table laid with golden plates, cups, and cutlery, there lay beautiful bejeweled forks bearing a curse. Upon picking a fork up characters are compelled to begin eating themselves. Every round affected characters must succeed on a DC 13 Charisma or Strength saving throw or stab themselves with the ornate fork and eat their own flesh, dealing 1 HP of damage.

The skeletons in manacles will begin a mocking, cruel cackling if anyone picks up a fork and takes a bite of themselves.

If they are incautious, multiple player characters may end up feasting on themselves. The curse can be temporarily interrupted by intoning a solemn prayer to the gods, or through use of a cleric’s turning power. The curse can only be ended permanently by a remove curse spell, or by melting the cutlery down, destroying most of their value. Until such time, any time the cursed PCs eat something, the curse activates again, they find the evil fork inexplicably in their hand, and they must make a Charisma or Strength save every round as described above. This may lead to fatigue or inability to rest if the players don’t eat so as to avoid the curse.

Posted in 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, Encounter, Magic Item, Trap and tagged , by with no comments yet.

Alter of Transfixation (reworked)

I have worked up a new version of the altar for use in High Water Marks, a 4e adventure due out later this month.

Altar of Transfixion

Level 5 Warder | XP 500

The ziggurat-shaped altar ahead has a swirling aura about it, oscillating wildly in scintillating patterns.

Trap: This shrine is linked to the Abyss, and attempts to daze those in its area of effect while its worshipers strike.

Perception: No skill check required.

Additional Skill: Religion

DC 16: The character recognizes the altar as a source of active, malevolent evil.

DC 24: The character can read the runes – see Additional Description, below.

Initiative: +6

Trigger: Approach within 3 squares.

Attack: Attack again when others enter. 
No Action Close Burst 3 
Attack: +10 vs. Will

Hit: The altar deals 1d6+1 psychic damage, the target is dazed (save ends) and the altar pulls the target 1 square closer.


– An adjacent character can disable the trap with 3 DC 24 Thievery checks or 3 DC 24 Religion checks (with a holy symbol).

– Dealing 50 holy/radiant damage destroys the altar.

– Covering the altar or surrounding it in complete darkness reduces the attack to +5 vs. Will.

Additional Description: 
Runes run along the steps of the ziggurat spelling out the name “Tharizdun” in Abyssal and a warning regarding the horrors that he inspires.

Additional Effect: 
If Tharizdun’s name is uttered (in any language) in the aura of the altar, the altar makes a Close Burst 5 +10 Will attack, dealing 3d10 damage to all affected.

DMs Note: The altar is intended to be used to enhance the difficulty and dynamics of an encounter with similarly malevolent creatures, such as demons.



Posted in 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons, Trap by with no comments yet.

Map Pins

This campaign flavor is also a nice trap, or in the modern parlance, a hazard. Have a map available on a desk or pinned to a wall in a mage’s tower, with a map pin corresponding to the current location. As the characters remove the pins and place them in new locations, the tower teleports them to the new location.

See how this can be used in various forms and in various environments, for instance representing the location of a large floating disk in a catacomb riddled with pit traps. The party will have to play with the pins on their confusing map (where are they, for instance?) until they find which one will bring them the disk. Meanwhile, other pins correspond to beholders and other nasty creatures, which the party inadvertently teleports in in their search for the disk.

Posted in Magic Item, Trap and tagged , , by with no comments yet.

A Series of False Trap Sketches

Inspired by a brief conversation from tonight’s role playing session, here are some false trap ideas for your dungeons. They’re brief themselves; so be it.

Alternate Flooring

One way to keep your party (especially the rogues) on their toes is to mix up the flooring. Drop in fitted stone where there is mostly naturally-hewn rock, or parquet in the middle of a wealthy treasure chamber. These false positives will set the party up to let their guard down for the real traps awaiting them!

Spurious Tripwires

Have tripwires in dungeons that don’t set off any traps. These wires might set certain levers, building to a larger trap, be lines to traps already set off, or simply be duds, traps that never seem to work.

False Pits

Have floors drop out from under the party, only to have them land 6″ below the normal floor. This will set them at ease… Or will it!?!?

Anti-trap Tripwires

Have these tripwires drop shields that protect the party from the falling rocks in the next room, or provide other potential escapes and work-arounds, such as opening up a side chamber or otherwise revealing a potential escape.

Posted in Trap and tagged by with no comments yet.

Holy Caltrops

Holy caltrops are runes the wielder drops on the ground to slow and damage the undead. The runes have a single activation keyword, the name of the rune. The runes deal 2d8 holy damage to and slow any undead in a 20′ radius which fail a DC 20 reflex save. Undead creatures which step on the caltrops must make a DC 25 reflex save or take 3d8 holy damage.

If laid as a trap, the caltrops do not require the keyword to activate them, but also do not affect all those in a 20′ radius; only those undead which step upon the caltrops are affected.

Greater holy caltrops raise the DC by 5 and the damage by a d8; lesser remove 5 DC and a d8.

Moderate enchantment. Must be blessed by a cleric of at least level 9. Price: 2,500 (lesser), 5,000 or 7,500 (greater) gp.

Posted in Magic Item, Trap and tagged by with no comments yet.