Make them Cry!! - The DM's Diabolic Book of Mean Mean Things


Advice

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Going out with a bang!

Mummies with scrolls of explosive runes hidden in their bandages and a necklace of fireballs under the scrolls. Players kill the mummies and read the scrolls, set of the runes and the fire damage sets off all of the beads on the necklace.


The most funny trap I've seen is reverse gravity trap spell. here is how to do it:

set up: spike on the Ceiling of the room. If you really want to be mean, hide it with an illusion spell. Then put a trap on the floor with a X ft drop into more spike (don't remember the range of reverse gravity). At the same time you put a reverse gravity trap with a reset timer. So here is how its gonna work:

1-trap open, falling damage
2-spike damage upon arrival down there
3-reverse gravity trap activate
4-spike damage on the ceiling of the room
5-reverse gravity trap turn off
6-the character falls down AGAIN
7-???
8-profit

rinse and repeat. Bloody funny to watch


Have an Illusory(Phantasm) bridge over a dangerous chasm. Then in the middle, a tip-off that there is an illusion "on the bridge" to anyone who makes their save to disbelieve, the bridge vanishes.


Especially fun for characters with Leadership:

Doppelgangers!

How often do the PCs see their non-cohort underlings? Do they even remember the name of their castellan? Their cook? Their smith? Do they even HAVE names?

Which means that they probably aren't going to notice when a few get whacked and replaced by doppelgangers.

At which point, all their enemies suddenly become AMAZINGLY well-informed about their plans, what expeditions they're going to undertake, etc., allowing for well-set ambushes to become the regular thing, as the doppelgangers sell their information-gathering acumen to the highest bidders.

And finally, when they stumble back to their fortress, tired and pissed-off that they've gotten bushwhacked AGAIN, they end up drugged and handed over to the winner of the bidding war!


Alitan wrote:

Especially fun for characters with Leadership:

Doppelgangers!

How often do the PCs see their non-cohort underlings? Do they even remember the name of their castellan? Their cook? Their smith? Do they even HAVE names?

I'm glad my weekend DM doesn't read these boards, he just gave two of us Leadership as bonus feats! 0.0


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Azten wrote:
Alitan wrote:

Especially fun for characters with Leadership:

Doppelgangers!

How often do the PCs see their non-cohort underlings? Do they even remember the name of their castellan? Their cook? Their smith? Do they even HAVE names?

I'm glad my weekend DM doesn't read these boards, he just gave two of us Leadership as bonus feats! 0.0

How lucky for you. Say... what's his e-mail address?

}:)

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A nasty surprise for your melee types. Have an invisible stalker disarm them and fly away. Huh all those bonuses from invisibility and penalties to your CMD from being unaware really stack up :P


Malignor wrote:

Stone golem made of flint, on a wooden rope bridge, over a pit of boiling candle wax. Go ahead, hit em with your steel weapons, I dare you!

(Stolen from Grimtooth's traps)

Chop rope, dump golem into wax, problem solved?


From 2nd edition:

The party had gained a mortal enemy in the form of a MindFlayer. He was genius and crafted some specific traps to nail the party.

Party entered into a large cavern. Two kobolds charged the party at amazing speed. The party prepares to fight them, assuming they are buffed.

The kobolds were actually two rust monsters, with haste (doubling their 2-3 attacks up to 4-6) and with stoneskin (2nd edition did not reduce damage, it negated hits entirely).

Within the two rounds it took the party to figure out what they were fighting, they had lost almost all worn and wielded gear. As they finished up the rusties and were b$&%+ing, out came the MindFlayer to pay them a visit...

---

Hasted/stoneskinned War Elephants also did wonders. 1 charge plus 2 regular attacks doubled. They did fairly massive damage this way even to mid level (10ish) parties.


Alitan wrote:

How lucky for you. Say... what's his e-mail address?

}:)

I might suggest it, actually. I like helping the DM come up with nasty little surprises... >.>


Huh. One of MY favorite hobbies, too. The other players haven't killed me YET...


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EYE SEE YOU!

I got my players pretty good with this one:

The characters were investigating the "Cult of the All-Seeing Eye" (yes, the idea was stolen from Baldur's Gate). The cultists wore amulets with an eye design on them, and the characters were able to kill one cultist and take the amulet. Down in the dungeon, they found a long room (about 60 feet long) covered in eye sigils that beamed dozens of Rays of Enfeeblement around the room. The only way to safely get through the room was if one was wearing a cultist's amulet. However, the party only had one! So they had to have one character walk across, then toss the amulet back to the others, have another walk across, rinse, repeat.

Just on the other side of the room was a short flight of wide stairs that emptied into a huge chamber with a hole in the floor. This was the "chapel" of the cult. Someone in the chamber could look back and see anyone on the stairs, though not into the Enfeeblement room at the top.

The whole party was invisible, standing on the stairs, watching as the cult began its daily ritual. Then out of the pit came... a BEHOLDER! Instantly the characters were visible. They were also trapped, as going back through the chamber was a long process. (This had the added effect of revealing the true nature of a drow PC character who had been hiding as a high elf -- good times.)


Alitan wrote:

Especially fun for characters with Leadership:

Doppelgangers!

We had a paladin that was constantly whining about how unfair it was to follow all the "good-guy" rules..he was always right on the edge of losing his abilities..
So a doppleganger took his place in their home city while he was off adventuring for a few months.
He comes home to find flowers being thrown at his feet, and getting patted on the back about his new baby, with his new wife..
The Dopp had done mostly good deeds..he discovered getting a title, estate and rich wife paid more that crime..he cleaned up the guilds, helped the orphans, etc etc..and the REAL Pally couldn't do much about it without looking like a jerk.. He did not enjoy his piece of humble pie..


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This wasn't a mean trick on the characters as much as it was one on the players....

The Chamber of Terrible Foreboding! (EL1)
The party enters into a circular room, with a ceiling at least 100 feet high. Just below the ceiling, around the perimeter of the room are what look like metallic shields. Once the last party member enters the room, the door slams shut behind them and a series of bolts within the door extend into the wall, floor, and ceiling around the portal - completely locking the party within the chamber.

After a few moments, a panel next to the door falls away, revealing a simple button with a window centered above the button. The window displays the number 15.

After a second, the panel emits a whirring click and the 15 rotates to 14. This repeats every second. As the numbers count down, a loud scraping noise can be heard from up around the ceiling of the chamber as the shields are revealed to be covers or plugs. With each tick of the timer, the shields gradually open further, exposing dark openings - perhaps the ends of some sort of chute or tube.

Pressing the button resets the timer to 15 and closes the metal plugs. However, the timer immediately starts ticking down again.

Now, when I first presented this room to a group of players, I had an egg timer handy. I handed it to the player whose character was pressing the button and had him wind the timer back to 15 over and over and over and over again.

2 real-time hours passed as my players tried making grappling hooks, climbing walls, breaking doors, breaking walls... they couldn't get out. Finally, unable to solve the riddle of the room and ready to make new characters, they let the timer run out, naturally expecting something horrible and painful to come rushing out of the plugs near the ceiling.

If the timer runs down to zero, there is a loud clanking noise as the bolts recede and then the door silently swings open.

This is the only time (to date at least) I was ever chased from the room by my players. Use this "trap" at your own peril!


Party enters a huge room.
In the center of the room is large pit approximately 30 feet deep and 40 feet across. There is about 2.5 feet on either side of the pit that might allow the players to cling to the wall and get around the pit.

As they make their way around the pit they are attacked by gargoyles. Now the acrobatics checks get wicked. Swing your sword (make a check), cast a spell (make a check), get hit (make a check). Oh and the gargoyles are just trying to knock them into the pit.

The bottom of the pit is covered in rubble. The remains of the unlucky. It turns out the pit is home to a gorgon.

The poor thief never stood a chance.

"Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead."

In actuality. I was hoping that they would all get turned to stone. I had plans to revive them 500 years in the future. Oh well.. the best laid plans.


Jason Stormblade wrote:

From 2nd edition:

The party had gained a mortal enemy in the form of a MindFlayer. He was genius and crafted some specific traps to nail the party.

Party entered into a large cavern. Two kobolds charged the party at amazing speed. The party prepares to fight them, assuming they are buffed.

The kobolds were actually two rust monsters, with haste (doubling their 2-3 attacks up to 4-6) and with stoneskin (2nd edition did not reduce damage, it negated hits entirely).

Within the two rounds it took the party to figure out what they were fighting, they had lost almost all worn and wielded gear. As they finished up the rusties and were b&@*%ing, out came the MindFlayer to pay them a visit...

---

Hasted/stoneskinned War Elephants also did wonders. 1 charge plus 2 regular attacks doubled. They did fairly massive damage this way even to mid level (10ish) parties.

I assume magic was used to conceal the "f%#! you martials" monsters?


Alitan wrote:

Especially fun for characters with Leadership:

Doppelgangers!

How often do the PCs see their non-cohort underlings? Do they even remember the name of their castellan? Their cook? Their smith? Do they even HAVE names?

Which means that they probably aren't going to notice when a few get whacked and replaced by doppelgangers.

At which point, all their enemies suddenly become AMAZINGLY well-informed about their plans, what expeditions they're going to undertake, etc., allowing for well-set ambushes to become the regular thing, as the doppelgangers sell their information-gathering acumen to the highest bidders.

And finally, when they stumble back to their fortress, tired and pissed-off that they've gotten bushwhacked AGAIN, they end up drugged and handed over to the winner of the bidding war!


Blackerose wrote:
Alitan wrote:

Especially fun for characters with Leadership:

Doppelgangers!

How often do the PCs see their non-cohort underlings? Do they even remember the name of their castellan? Their cook? Their smith? Do they even HAVE names?

Which means that they probably aren't going to notice when a few get whacked and replaced by doppelgangers.

At which point, all their enemies suddenly become AMAZINGLY well-informed about their plans, what expeditions they're going to undertake, etc., allowing for well-set ambushes to become the regular thing, as the doppelgangers sell their information-gathering acumen to the highest bidders.

And finally, when they stumble back to their fortress, tired and pissed-off that they've gotten bushwhacked AGAIN, they end up drugged and handed over to the winner of the bidding war!

I did write that... but what were you going for from there?


Goblins are @$$(*$&#

Treasure chest is trapped with a AoE arcane mark trap. When the PCs open it there is no role to hit , no save , no SR. They each get a visable , glowing phallic symbol on thier foreheads. Kinda like a " ya , you killed me but fu " from beyond the grave......dont worry its fades in a month.

No one said this mean things had to kill people right?

Imp...Now with 100% more vomit

Standard Imp can use a wand of vomit swarm on a UMD check of 13+ can stay invisabile forever. Summoning is not a hostle act.


Enforcing encumbrance rules and requiring the tracking of projectiles, spell components, and character fatigue. Doing some or all of these things tend to get most groups annoyed with the GM's evil tendencies. The other one players tend to hate are in-world consequences for their actions. For example: go around intimidating everyone ('cause it's your highest social skill) and end up getting viewed as a bully.


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Dal Selpher wrote:

Going Down!

After the party has acquired some power and magical wherewithal, have them find themselves inside a tower which they must ascend, however make sure there are no stairs or any other *easy* way of going up. Make it a TALL tower - like 300 ft at minimum. If your players are like my players, they will simply hop on a magic carpet, cast overland flight, fly, or something similar and simply begin to fly straight up.

When they get 20 feet from the top, a trap with a proximity trigger trips, activing runes of anti-magic field all the way down the sides of the tower.

Cackle with glee as your party begins to free fall.

Bonus DM points if the 1st character's impact is enough to break through the floor, revealing another 50 foot drop ending in spikes or gelatinous cubes.

To spice it up a bit

Breakin on Through
Make the fall about 200 feet(maximum falling damage) with a 2-3 foot thick wooden floor(hardness 5, 60-90 hp). So, the party falls, and slams into the floor taking damage as normal, the 3rd or 4th PC will break the floor. Leading to another 200 foot fall will another Wooden floor. 3 or 4 broken floors later give them the spiked pit with a friendly "At least you can be sure you won't break through this one." This one is especially made for the player who believes they can ignore falling damage because they have a ton of HP, and max falling damage is only 20d6.


Booming Blinder

If the players get really cocky I like to throw them against 5-6 intermixed Dark Creepers and Dark Stalkers. (CR2 and 3 respectively I think.)

When a Dark Creeper dies it bursts into flame, creating a blinding effect on everyone near him. When the Dark Stalkers die, they explode into a 3d6 fireball hitting everyone in a 20 ft radius.

God help the players if the wizard tries to get smart and launch a fireball just far enough out that kills only the group of enemies.


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Brambleman wrote:
Another brilliant and cunning addition by Ashiel. What would we do without you?

Why thank you Brambleman. <(^-^)>

stringburka wrote:
This guy

You are indeed an evil, evil man, Stringburka. Welcome to the club!

On a side note, I regularly do the 2nd one on your example, with low level casters sporting strong summoned monsters and/or spells via scrolls, wands, etc. In fact, James Jacobs pulled a similar trick in The Red Hand of Doom, as the very first encounter involves a hobgoblin NPC who pops a scroll of Summon Monster III, before he can cast it himself (he just has to make a pointlessly low caster level check :P).

If you're a fan of the Baldur's Gate I & II series like I am, it's not as unusual as you might think. It's entirely possible for PCs and NPCs to get access to some wands beyond what you normally are capable of. Oh how many times my BG I party has turned a terrible fight around by dropping a charge from their wand of monster summoning to pile 16 HD worth of ogres on the field or something, when my own wizards can't even cast fireball yet. :P

In the spirit of Evil-DM with a silver lining, my PCs also find some really nice wands and stuff now and then, and often get some useful loot of the enemies who don't burn through all their charges and stuff during an encounter.

========================================================================
Nothing is True, All is Permitted
Illusions are a funny sort of magic. They don't allow a saving throw until you interact with them, so no matter how high that awesome will save is, unless you actually go mess with an illusion, you can't tell that that silent image wall is anything except a wall. So what makes illusions so much fun? Well, because illusion is about deception and trickery. It's not really about raw force, but about making your foe second guess themselves, or become the instrument of their own doom. Naturally, this makes illusions super fun for GMs. !<(^-^)>|≡

Illusions can confound and confuse foes, and are ideally used in conjunction with things like pit traps, bridges, or other more obviously harmful things that are out and about. Sadly, true seeing effectively ruins virtually all illusion spells, so these types of tricks are best used at low to mid levels; when true seeing isn't standard issue.

So what are some fair examples of using illusions in cruel and unusual ways? Well one of the classics is simply creating illusory walls in mazes to allow mages to escape, or enemies to move about unhindered, or to allow the party to be surrounded by badguys who appear to come through the walls.

A more advanced trick is disguising pit traps to look like floors, and floors to look like pits or other hazards. Watch and laugh as PCs try to jump over perfectly normal sections of floor and right into the pit of nasty things. Playing on their paranoia, a sufficiently mad gnome bard or illusionist can drive the party bonkers. Watch as they trust nothing, and begin to fear the mundane and safe, and foolishly try to charge through the actually dangerous hallway full of spinning blades, expecting them to just be another illusion.

Likewise, invisibility cast on certain objects can really annoy your party, and can be made permanent via permanency as well. Invisible barriers, obstacles, or even traps can seriously bug out your party. Running headfirst into invisible nets, webs, walls, running through a room with invisible caltrops, or trying to find the invisible lever that turns off that horrible auto-resetting summon monster trap can be a jolly laugh (especially since as stationary invisible objects, the Perception DC to notice them is a stupidly high +40; personally I houseruled invisibility to work like it did in 3.x 'cause it's just stupid in Pathfinder σ_σ).

Also, it is likely to drive your party up the wall when you have invisible barriers like portuculli, bars, and so forth, which can allow your enemy spellcasters and such to keep spamming spells through the barriers, while forcing the party to stumble around trying to determine where the actual openings between the bars are to reach them. Bonus points for having the actual openings being locked, requiring them to be knocked or lockpicked open.

Throwing some permanent images of common monsters and such in the dungeon can also lead to the party wasting spells or resources trying to ambush them, and can also function as a first-warning for enemies. "Aw, sorry, that room full of bugbears you fireballed? Well, those are just illusions. However, you did manage to set off the alarm, alerting the real enemies to your presence. Have a nice day."

ಠ_ಠ


Azten wrote:

Going out with a bang!

Mummies with scrolls of explosive runes hidden in their bandages and a necklace of fireballs under the scrolls. Players kill the mummies and read the scrolls, set of the runes and the fire damage sets off all of the beads on the necklace.

You could also replace the necklace with a very obvious Helm of Brilliance. Watch as your players specifically NOT try to use fire, only for the mummy to self-destruct.


The mummy has an expiration date: it'll be taking damage for being within range of the active Helm...


Dotting for future evilness. I really like the dark folk comments, as next session my players are about to enter a dark folk lair. I planned on abusing the deeper darkness/sneak attack trick, but I hadn't even thought about the implications of the blinding flash.

Add to it with the fact that it's a Goonies inspired dungeon, everyone assumes they'll find a helpful Sloth type guy and a pirate ship. Instead they get a very antagonistic ogre-kin and a big 'ol aquatic undead at the end. At least the water slide was fun......


The Eel wrote:

Dotting for future evilness. I really like the dark folk comments, as next session my players are about to enter a dark folk lair. I planned on abusing the deeper darkness/sneak attack trick, but I hadn't even thought about the implications of the blinding flash.

Add to it with the fact that it's a Goonies inspired dungeon, everyone assumes they'll find a helpful Sloth type guy and a pirate ship. Instead they get a very antagonistic ogre-kin and a big 'ol aquatic undead at the end. At least the water slide was fun......

Curse of the Crimson Throne:
Something like this guy? Picture here.

I'd caution on the use of Stalkers and Creepers. Against a party without true strike, the Stalker can spam out Deeper Darkness to negate any amount of daylight, dispel magic, etc. the party can summon forth. Generally speaking, it's easy for a couple of creepers and stalkers to defeat anything short of high level parties as they simply can't counter the Deeper Darkness.


Simple 10-ft wide pit trap, preferably deep... possibly sharp edged razors set into the walls part way down to complicate lowering a rope. When the PC falls into the pit, unless he can fly he is trapped... if he can fly you can add a sliding cover part way down that prevents easy exit, and if the cover is 30 ft down it won't be easy for his friends to quickly pry it open. He might be lonely down there while the party tries to get him out, so keep him company with a few wraiths or shadows... they are incorporeal so they flit in and out of the walls and floors, striking from whatever angle he's not facing, reaching up through the floors (I usually rule that if they're part in a wall they have a cover bonus to their AC but that's not canon law)... most rogues or warrior types will be hard pressed to hurt an incorporeal foe when fighting alone and will find it even harder when the touch of their foe drains their lifeforce into it. When I used this trap on my players we lost a barbarian and a rogue, one after the other, and the players cried FOUL on me.


Tels wrote:
The Eel wrote:

Dotting for future evilness. I really like the dark folk comments, as next session my players are about to enter a dark folk lair. I planned on abusing the deeper darkness/sneak attack trick, but I hadn't even thought about the implications of the blinding flash.

Add to it with the fact that it's a Goonies inspired dungeon, everyone assumes they'll find a helpful Sloth type guy and a pirate ship. Instead they get a very antagonistic ogre-kin and a big 'ol aquatic undead at the end. At least the water slide was fun......

** spoiler omitted **

I'd caution on the use of Stalkers and Creepers. Against a party without true strike, the Stalker can spam out Deeper Darkness to negate any amount of daylight, dispel magic, etc. the party can summon forth. Generally speaking, it's easy for a couple of creepers and stalkers to defeat anything short of high level parties as they simply can't counter the Deeper Darkness.

OOH, I like him! Yep, that's the one. Gonna have to borrow that stat block.

There's 7 party members, all 4th and 5th level, plus an eidolon. They typically tear through whatever I put in their way, as I'm still testing their limits. I don't plan throwing many dark folk at them at once, and I think there's only 2 Stalkers in the whole bunch. Still, it's supposed to be a grim fantasy, and they know they can easily die. I'll keep your warning in mind as they progress through the area.


The problem with stalkers, is Daylight is a 3rd level spell, and since your party is only 5th level, they'll *might* have 1 prepared. Dark Stalkers opens up with Deeper Darkness, Creepers move up and sneak attack. Caster uses Daylight to dispel the Deeper Darkness. Stalker uses another Deeper Darkness to allow more sneak attacks. Party is now dead because the Deeper Darkness moves with the Stalker and unless the party can keep making the acrobatics checks to move while blinded, they will trip and fall and then the Stalker and Creepers catch up and kill them.

Consider dropping a Wand of Daylight with 5 charges on it somewhere so they can have a chance against the Stalker. Also, look into the Dark Slayer as an alternative. He's the magic using version of the Dark Folk and doesn't come with the Deeper Darkness ability. One Creeper opens up with Darkness, Slayer uses his Spectral Hand SLA, Creepers move forward and sneak attack. Slayer then uses his Spectral Hand to hit with his Chill Touch SLA while the Creepers are keeping the party busy. For a particularly resilient person, he would use his Inflict Moderate SLA on him. This would still be a challenging encounter, but less likely to be a TPK as Darkness can be countered by Daylight and in fact suppresses any number of Darkness spells.


Here's a trap I came up with to add to a particularly nasty kobold dungeon I've run:

One Pill Makes You Larger...

PCs are chasing some kobolds through the narrow twisting tunnels that lead into the kobolds' lair. The kobolds manage to stay ahead of the PCs who have to squeeze, and fire crossbows or spells at them from the ends of the hallways before rushing down the next corridor to keep a good distance between them and the advancing adventurers.

Eventually, the group gets to a 10x10x10 room with a pressure plate in the center. Upon trigger the trap, they're hit by an Enlarge Person spell, essentially trapping them in the room, while the kobolds fire at the PC's feet.

Down the hallway past the Enlarging room are some hanging in the hall that you have to brush aside to move through. One of them is actually a trap trigger that activates a Gust of Wind, or similar spell, powerful enough to fire the players back through the sizing room, which in turn resets that trap.


Tels wrote:

The problem with stalkers, is Daylight is a 3rd level spell, and since your party is only 5th level, they'll *might* have 1 prepared. Dark Stalkers opens up with Deeper Darkness, Creepers move up and sneak attack. Caster uses Daylight to dispel the Deeper Darkness. Stalker uses another Deeper Darkness to allow more sneak attacks. Party is now dead because the Deeper Darkness moves with the Stalker and unless the party can keep making the acrobatics checks to move while blinded, they will trip and fall and then the Stalker and Creepers catch up and kill them.

Consider dropping a Wand of Daylight with 5 charges on it somewhere so they can have a chance against the Stalker. Also, look into the Dark Slayer as an alternative. He's the magic using version of the Dark Folk and doesn't come with the Deeper Darkness ability. One Creeper opens up with Darkness, Slayer uses his Spectral Hand SLA, Creepers move forward and sneak attack. Slayer then uses his Spectral Hand to hit with his Chill Touch SLA while the Creepers are keeping the party busy. For a particularly resilient person, he would use his Inflict Moderate SLA on him. This would still be a challenging encounter, but less likely to be a TPK as Darkness can be countered by Daylight and in fact suppresses any number of Darkness spells.

There are in fact some Slayers there. More than Stalkers. I've already thrown in a few lighting condition changing items. I mostly want to use Deeper Darkness once or twice to scare the crap out of them and watch them run. I'll watch it to make sure it doesn't get out of control, but I appreciate the advice.


yeti1069 wrote:
Eventually, the group gets to a 10x10x10 room with a pressure plate in the center. Upon trigger the trap, they're hit by an Enlarge Person spell, essentially trapping them in the room, while the kobolds fire at the PC's feet.

This actually reminds me of something I thought of long ago but have never managed to work into an adventure.

The characters are pretty far into a dungeon when they are hit by a special magical effect that slowly begins to increase their size. Unlike Enlarge, it takes about a minute to increase one size category, and it NEVER STOPS (well, there's some kind of end to it, but I haven't worked that part out yet). Anyway, the characters must scramble to escape the dungeon in a matter of minutes before they become too large to be able to move through the passageways, because if they don't, they'll be crushed to death by the dungeon itself.

This is particularly effective if somewhere along the line the characters ran into a MASSIVE corpse they take to be a dead giant, though there is no explanation of how it got lodged so deep in these tunnels...

Sczarni

a little trick with a matched pair of Cleric/Oracles:

The Repose Domain powers work quite nicely in concert with one another, especially Gentle Rest.

Spoiler:
Gentle Rest (Sp): Your touch can fill a creature with lethargy, causing a living creature to become staggered for 1 round as a melee touch attack. If you touch a staggered living creature, that creature falls asleep for 1 round instead. Undead creatures touched are staggered for a number of rounds equal to your Wisdom modifier. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.

Here's the trick (courtesy of Turin the Mad's "Black Sisters"):

  • Casters get high initiative, somehow.
  • Isolate one PC, preferably with wall spells / blade barrier / etc.
  • Use Gentle Rest power on that PC, twice.
  • PC sleeps through his next turn
  • Coup de Grace the sleepyhead (use heavy picks for even nastier nastiness).


  • In reference to being mean, do not forget the potence of Insult on top of Injury. I once designed a complicated, multi-stage death trap in the Grimtooth style. Then I drew cartoons, with each PC noted by some signifigant detail, of what would happen to the party as each stage played out (ala Grimtooth). The mixed refrain of laughter and gasps of horror was music to my DM ears.

    To wit: Mike Stackpole Rules!!!


    dotted with evil grin

    Scarab Sages

    In a my current campaign (I am a player) we are all lvl 2 so the little things are terrifying. We had to traverse a beach and came upon a crab as big as we were (we are also all goblins). As we begin to sneak on by a large xo omit falls from the sky and kills the crab. A round later an albatross lands and we all nearly panic. Thankfullly none of us have a stealth mod under 10 so we get buy.
    Next we come to a massive horde of crabs. Two dozen at least. No sneak this time. Our gunslinger comes up with the bright idea of using disguise checks to get through without alarming the crabs. Our DM chuckles, but it's the only way. First check, the warrior fails, naturally, and the DM announces that the crabs look as if they doubt that he is a crab. The gunslinger announces a natural 20 with pride and the DM announces that he must make a reflex save. Puzzled, he rolls a 10 in all. A large coconut lands on him. By the time we get through the crabs we are all near passing out from non-lethal bludgeoning damage from coconut hits and the crabs are nipping at our heels as we sprint toward our destination.
    Good times


    Dotted, despite claims from a player that playing enemies as intending to kill her PC is mean enough.


    Divided we fall

    Splitting up the party is typically a bad idea, especially if you want to increase the chances of PC death. If you want to do this, you have to think carefully about how this changes the combat dynamic.

    Splitting up the party mid-combat can be an interesting option, particularly if both encounters for the separated PCs are *specifically balanced* to be fought that way. The goal is not to challenge the PCs but to terrify the players.

    Here are a couple of ideas:

    * A series of concealed pits that lead to a lower "pit level". One option for making this balanced is to have a selection of different encounters available depending on who falls down. The falling damage shouldn't be too brutal to make survival almost impossible.

    * One group of PCs cover another group as they move to a difficult-to-reach location. When the group in motion reaches their destination, another encounter starts there while the covering group is busy.

    The secondary encounter should favor the fallen PC's abilities: low AC for physical characters, low X saves for a caster (depending on the caster), etc. The goal here is to scare the players while showing off their PC's abilities. I tend to use a lot of monsters from third-party sources that have a low CR for these types of encounters. The PCs don't really know what to expect and you know that the fights won't be that hard.


    Dotting


    Shattered Span

    A personal favorite of mine happens to be bridges made out of crystal, and enemies that have sonic damage attacks (either AOE or targeted). The resulting encounters quickly become about stealth and making sure the party can get off a one shot kill. It's a good way to force a low to mid-level party to expend lots of resources (haste, invisibility, fly, etc) against very few enemies in a short period of time.

    -----
    Gifts Unasked For

    Unhallow can be used to great effect in any dungeon, particularly to keep troublesome tactics of your party under control. Using it to give all the enemies your PCs are facing protection from energy is a time honored tactic that everyone knows about.

    But you can also use it to give your PCs spells effects, sometimes with deadly consequence: For instance, I once had a spider cleric use it to 'give' the PCs Freedom of Movement on a giant spider web hanging over a volcano: they were no longer bound by the sticky goo coating the webs, while their enemies were. Which meant the PCs could easily be bull rushed off the web, while their enemies could not.

    Another tactic, I've been known to do was use it to give the PCs detect spells, such as detect magic or detect evil... in areas which were full of auras powerful enough to leave them stunned.

    -----
    Pride Go-eth Before the Bolt

    A trap that requires a certain amount of knowledge of your players, and some NPC involvement, but is my personal favorite when someone in the party is playing a cavalier, paladin, or other "honorable" character who can be called out to answer a challenge.

    Take standard crossbow traps throughout the entirety of the dungeon, and rig them with the ability to cast Named Bullet on their ammunition... then have your bad guys trick the PCs into naming themselves to set the target of the spells.

    At high levels, replace crossbows with siege weapons. Because it's still a single piece of ammunition.

    -----
    The Open Tower

    Take your standard wizard's tower, but have all the external walls be illusory, and studded with spikes on the inside. Then place monsters with Awesome Blow or Shield Slam inside, and let them begin battering your players about. Since the walls aren't there, they can hammer the players right out into open space, letting them fall into whatever unpleasantness you've dreamed up to be outside.

    -----
    You Shall Not Pass

    Take your standard foot bridge, and eliminate the rails on it. At the narrowest point in the middle, place a man who has decided you need to either pay a toll or he won't let you pass. Give him a shield and whip for his weapons, as well as the combat patrol and shield slam feats.

    A good recipe for removing excess wealth if your PCs have managed to accumulate it.


    Wow, there is a lot of nasty ideas!
    I can add a few I've put along my dungeons as GM:

    The party (4°) is in a ancient tomb / ruin. At this point crosses a narrow (acrobatics dc 10) metal footbridge over a pit full of spikes. A couple of traps activate passing on specific points of the bridge, casting gust of wind (that potentially throws the character in the pit) [my group tied ropes around the bridge and themselves at this point]. At the end of the footbridge, there is a narrow ceremonial room with an altar in the end and on top of it an item that the party needed. The room is designed with paintings etc, and strange black holes are scattered among the walls to melt with the background drawings unseen. As the weight of the item is removed from the altar (like Indiana Jones!) a poisonous gas starts to flow out, and two previously sealed secret doors that were looking like corridor's walls start to rise, just on the other side of the footbridge. Behind these doors there are large skeleton champions, two archers (with large composite bows, 1d10 + str) and two armored ones with tower shields that stay on front.
    The room starts to get full of gas, forcing the party to move away from this dead end towards the bridge. The archers start to shoot the party taking cover behind the tower shields. Firing back at some skeleton (5/bludgeoning covered by a tower shield) looks completely useless, and the only way is passing this very narrow bridge again while shot and not tied (unless you want to tie ropes while skeletons pierce your back).

    The challenge was tough but the group managed.

    It's late, but more to come!


    Dotting for research. I STINK at this stuff and have been hunting for this thread since I started GM'ing my current players. Unfortunately I only have weakness to contribute:

    The party has entered a bunch of volcanic caves; beneath said caves there is still some magma and such. They come to a ruined section of hallway just beyond which are twin natural chambers off a circular plaza of sorts. The ruined secion can be squeezed through but is coated in brown mold. Here's what's going on: the occasional pyroclastic blast flames up through here bringing the necessary flame to feed the mold. The mold in turn cools the stone. Over a long time it's made the archway brittle and partially collapse.

    Now, the party can damage the mold but runs the risk of causing a full on cave in. If however the dstroy the mold just right (Dungeoneering or Engineering check) they actually widen the entry. However - they've just uncorked the bottle.

    Certain pockets have just closed and one of those blasts is coming up. As the party moves into the natural chambers they find lots of shiny crystals they've got to pry loose to collect, which takes time. They have a chance (Perception check) to notice the crystals start to vibrate with the building pressure; otherwise firey magma comes exploding into the area doing splash damage all over the place...and setting up the ACTUAL cave in. Dont worry though; there's a natural grotto 20' below a gallery of sorts on the far side of the plaza. They just need to find a way across the pools of magma that are slowly eating away at the floor...


    The Black Pool
    This one's kind of an old standby, but enduringly lethal. The party comes to a flooded chamber. A pool of brackish, chest-deep water fills an area extending at least 30 feet from the far wall. At the far end of which can be seen signs of visible treasure, for instance a corpse bearing jewelry and fine armor or weapons. The danger is that a group of shadows or other incorporeal beasties are waiting to ambush anyone who dares venture out towards the loot. They typically wait until a PC reaches the farthest point from land and generally choose not to venture above the surface of the water. The nastiness is severalfold: The water is murky, so anything within (including the party) has full concealment. The shadows are capable of locating the party with their lifesense - but the reverse is unlikely to be true. Being incorporeal, the shadows can move and attack freely and take 5-foot steps, whereas the party cannot (without Freedom of Movement). On TOP of that - since the water is sufficiently deep, fire spells are ineffective without a caster level check and non-piercing weapons suffer a 50% damage penalty (as appropriate for fighting in water) in addition the normal incorporeal reduction. Variants can include flooded passageways, etc.


    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

    Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem, Wet Bones

    In an old ruin, once owned by a necromancer, in a swamp. The party is exploring the only entrance they can find to an old tower. It's a partially sunken escape tunnel. The tunnel has 2.5 feet of water, and is filled with random skeletons (weak skeletons, but a lot of them). Also in the water is leeches, giant leeches, flesh eating piranha swarms, crawfish swarms, and other aquatic dangers. The skeletons can't sense the fish creatures due to the water, and the fish don't eat fleshless bones, so the two coexist happily (with the fish eating the creatures the skeletons kill).

    The tunnels are all also filled with traps, each of which only goes off if over 100lbs of weight steps on the floor (not counting the water already there).

    If the character's bring a canoe or something, they avoid the fish, but have no dex bonus to ac (unless they want to chance flipping over), and the tunnels should be tight enough in places to require getting out. The traps aren't set off by the fish (which swim) or the skeletons (which don't weigh enough).

    Walk through the water, get attacked by everything. Float on a canoe, and the skeletons hit you every time. Only way is floating along over the water, but the ceilings dip down too much to avoid the water. Basically a really nasty slog through swamp water and traps with undead thrown in for fun.


    My god this thread is awesome, I am going to have to design a dungeon that uses ALL OF THESE.. muahahhaa....


    The Lockout
    The party comes across a short, five-foot wide passage where an initially open door displays a room beyond. Unbeknownst to the party, a number of rogues or other sneaky types are hiding just on the other side of the doorway. For the proper effect, most must have full cover and concealment from outside the room - so they cannot be seen. Sometimes a lure may be used - an enemy appears to run away from the PCs and into the room. When the first PC enters to explore, one of the rogues either uses Hold Portal (from a major magic rogue trick) or a pair of them hidden just inside the door use the surprise round to 1) close the door, and 2) lock it. The rest of the party now has to find some means of bypassing the door while the others proceed to tear apart the hapless PC inside. For added nastiness, a trap can be placed on the lock - harmless while the door is open, but active when locked. By which point the PCs will be short on time to search properly.


    Alitan wrote:
    Blackerose wrote:
    Alitan wrote:

    Especially fun for characters with Leadership:

    Doppelgangers!

    I did write that... but what were you going for from there?

    My net connection was yoyoing up and down..I have no idea how or why it even posted that. A few posts up, all in lovely quote grey, is my story. <smacks computer>

    Lantern Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

    ka-DOT!

    Now to go dig through my "GM's Big Book Of Pain;" the one that my players sometimes try to hide from me . . .

    Silver Crusade

    Shadowdweller wrote:

    The Black Pool

    This one's kind of an old standby, but enduringly lethal. The party comes to a flooded chamber. A pool of brackish, chest-deep water fills an area extending at least 30 feet from the far wall. At the far end of which can be seen signs of visible treasure, for instance a corpse bearing jewelry and fine armor or weapons. The danger is that a group of shadows or other incorporeal beasties are waiting to ambush anyone who dares venture out towards the loot. They typically wait until a PC reaches the farthest point from land and generally choose not to venture above the surface of the water. The nastiness is severalfold: The water is murky, so anything within (including the party) has full concealment. The shadows are capable of locating the party with their lifesense - but the reverse is unlikely to be true. Being incorporeal, the shadows can move and attack freely and take 5-foot steps, whereas the party cannot (without Freedom of Movement). On TOP of that - since the water is sufficiently deep, fire spells are ineffective without a caster level check and non-piercing weapons suffer a 50% damage penalty (as appropriate for fighting in water) in addition the normal incorporeal reduction. Variants can include flooded passageways, etc.

    Or just have a huge black pudding, or some crystal oozes (variant of gray ooze, found under that entry) in the pool.... don't even have to go undead to really screw with them in murky water.

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