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Countering traps without the Disable Device skill


I find that when my players encounter traps, they don't use the disable device skill to counter them. Instead, they'll use the environment or equipment to neutralize them: Boarding up the holes on a arrow trap, for instance.

I'm somewhat at a loss at how to manage this as the DM. While I try to encourage them to think outside the box and it leads to entertaining solutions at times, I can't help but feel that it makes the disable device skill lackluster and the trap-focused rogue somewhat useless at times. Any thoughts?

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Honestly, my thought on this generally is that doing stuff like boarding up an arrow trap should/could still need a Disable Device check to do it properly without setting it off.

The problem with that is that Disable Device is trained only, whereas some of these solutions are clearly and easily doable for anyone with basic carpentry skills.

Have them set off the trap... basic carpentry skills let you hammer things to a wall, but it turns out hammering on a trap is a bad idea.

Also... have them miss other parts.

If you are really feeling generous I would allow them to come up with a creative solution and that would let them make the roll untrained.

Basically as long as you let them role play around the need for the skill, they will never take the skill. If the skill is needed they will take it.


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Applaud their ingenuity and move on? Seriously, your players are doing more than leaving traps up to a roll of the dice. They are being clever, interacting with your world, and doing more than just playing a game. Rather than thwart them, let them get away with it. There are always those traps that will be too hard for them to handle (say, those involving magic) if you really feel the need to challenge them with something that does call for disable device, or another such expenditure of resources. If my players were to put for that sort of effort, however, I would encourage it. Find more opportunities for them to do that sort of thing! And take it as a compliment that they want to get more involved with the time and effort you put into your game.

^this. Its up to you what you make necessary. If a GM never makes a certain skill or skill component necessary players will never feel the need to have it.

I suppose the rub for me is that if my players come up with good reasons to convince an NPC of something, I'd give them a bonus to a diplomacy roll - not automatically win the roll. That way I acknowledge and reward their idea while still letting player skills be relevant.

Using a shield or a board to block an arrow trap is more of an "all or nothing"-option. I find it hard to balance the risk and reward.

I'll try to find more uses for the DD skill and simultaneously encourage them to keep thinking outside the box, thanks for your input guys :).

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