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


Advice

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Fun With Necromancy

The Undying Legion of Undeath
Build auto-resetting traps of Cause (whatever) Wounds that are motion triggered and effect a 10' burst.

Put them into the ribcages of undead minions.

They go off every round (or every other round depending on what you pay for) whenever the minions move. This heals them and nearby undead allies, and harms the living.

Now equip the minions with heavy armor, reach weapons and tower shields.

Overlapping auras of negative energy bursts coming from inside the undead phalanx? Have fun heroes.

Bonus Points if the undead have the Destructive Retribution ability from Libris Mortis.

Thing Adams' Electroshock Therapy

Crawling Claws. An old dungeon staple (not sure if pathfinder has made a version of them yet).

Seal them into spiked platemail gauntlets built to act like a Faraday Suit. Poison the spikes (I recommend Str or Dex poison to lower CMD). Run a chain from the gauntlets to anything that generates electricity.

For added fun, put a Kyton in the room.

Necropottery!

Between Mud to Rock and Stone to Flesh, and a few ranks in Craft: Pottery or Sculpture, a necromancer can effectively make corpses in whatever size and shape they want.

Beyond the obvious custom built minions, there's a fun trick with this. Undead Dungeons. Enough applications of Stone to Flesh and Gentle Repose can effectively turn an entire structure into an undead abomination (or a few of them sort of interconnected). Dungeons become a lot harder when the walls are an awakened zombie with fighter levels and the doors, traps and anything else that happens to move are it's weapons.


I have never used this but have hoped to work it into a game.

the part comes across a river and a pull ferry.

the operators of the pull ferry declare "We are the kings of Arse Cheek Land and you have to pay a toll to cross or you can swim the bloody river" the river is of course about 100 feet wide and relatively treacherous.

the party gets on the ferry and begin to be pulled across

half way across the ferry stops and another group of NPCs on the other side of the river demand an additional fee to continue to the other side.

the party will of course object to which the NPCs declare "we are the kings of Arse Cheek Land and you have to pay a toll to cross"

the PCs of course say something like "But we already paid the Kings of Butt Cheek Land"

and the NPCs reply "Aye. Those are the kings of LEFT Arse Cheek Land, this here is RIGHT Arse Cheek Land and YOU my friends are on Crap Creek"

I a fight ensues the players are facing 2 groups of NPCs about 50 feet in either direction shooting at them with long ranged attacks and the ability to cut the ferry rope if they absolutely have to (although that is an unlikely result as they would rather just sneak away and wait for the PCs to leave if things go poorly.

Grand Lodge

Small gorge.
Evenly spaced pillars with planks across them forming a bridge.
The pillars are hollow logs.
And a bored Kobold sits at the bottom of the gorge... wearing a Ring of the Ram.

Same concept but a sloped, curved ice bridge.

Scarab Sages

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Non-Euclidian Room (AKA, One-Room Dungeon)

Two doors (hereinafter referred to doors A and B), 5-10' apart, lead out of the chamber or hallway that the party is in.

Opening door A reveals a square room. There is a large, thick pillar of masonry in the center of the room, and the ceiling is supported by archways that span from the middle of each wall to the pillar. The room is arranged so that door B should also open into this room, but it does not.

This room is actually several identically constructed but individual rooms coexisting in the same space. Every time a character walks around the pillar, they move between the rooms. They proceed through one series of rooms as they move clockwise around the pillar, and completely different series of rooms as they move counter-clockwise around the pillar.

The creepy part is that there is no teleportation effect. There is no magic causing this and no detectable spell - the space is simply warped. The transition between rooms is seamless and unnoticeable. A PC will see one of their fellows walk around the central pillar and not appear around the other side, but will never actually see them flat-out disappear unless they are paying very close attention, and even then it will look like their fellow simply got swallowed up in an angle of the architecture that shouldn't be there.

Some of these rooms have doorways leading out of them. Some of the doorways lead to corridors leading to other rooms. These corridors and rooms can also have multi-dimensional properties and connect to one another in impossible ways. One door eventually leads out to door B.

Parties that aren't careful will soon find themselves separated and lost. Then the gribbly monsters begin appearing.

If you want to be REALLY mean, the gribbly monsters are the other PCs, which the room has glammered so that every time two PCs meet, they perceive it as being attacked by a hideous creature.

This works really well as a haunt, too.


Strahd the Lawful rule.

In ravenloft, my pc's skipped the buffet and went straight to the castle.

The BBEG had a alignment shield on him so the paladin couldn't detect his evil.

He argued that he was the lawful ruler and the PC's couldn't interfere because he had broken no law . The paladin had to agree, Strahd gave them a reward for there due diligence. A cart full of gold and jewels all sealed in barrels. the Pc's walked by the villagers and just kind of shrugged at there pleading eyes .When the PC"s opened the lid of the barrel 6 beads of force went off being dropped by a mechanism to explode in the barrels and the jewels and gold became shrapnel. None of them survived,or talked to me for a week after.


Dotted for future reference.

Dark Archive

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I believe one of my favorites was a game I ran where a group of 2nd Lvl PCs, 2 Paladins (1 Halfling, 1 Human) and 4 others; pretty much most of the party are Lawful Good knight-types.

They enter a town being attacked by an army of giant frogs.

They start fighting the frogs and when they knock the first one unconscious (and dying) it turns into a child.

Spellcraft and Knowledge checks reveal that all of these frogs are polymorphed children that were kidnapped months ago from the same town, by lizardmen from the swamp.

The halfling paladin suddenly gets swallowed whole by a giant frog.

Hilarity ensues as they attempt to complete the fight dealing (mostly) non-lethal damage to the horde of frogs so as not to accidentally kill them, while simlutaneously trying to get the halfling out of the frog without it turning into a child with him in its stomach.

They thought that was sick and wrong of me, it was priceless. They managed to pull it off without breaking their vows, but they were thinking really hard about every move.


My most diabolical accomplishment was in a dark fantasy campaign. The PCs were caught up in an underlying plot involving a cult that was trying to destabilize their home region. An early adventure was based off the Burning Plague (WotC). It turned out that I had two new players joining the game and they wanted to play NPCs to start with to get a feel for things (plus the timing wasn't great for introducing new PCs). They took over the two commanding officers of the troop of soldiers the players were accompanying.

One of the new players was an extremely experienced role-player and I gave him the officer who was actually a cultist, someone I had planned to turn on the players at the epic battle. He played the character quite well, and the players came to trust him. This made the betrayal that much harsher. Plus it didn't help that the BBEG was a priest who cast darkness on them as soon as they arrived, allowing the turncoat to dispatch of two soldiers (including the other new player's officer) without anyone knowing.

I was told by one player that it was the most epic battle he had ever been in, and he was actually doubtful they'd live (which is significant since in our circle of friends/role-players PC death never happens; campaign death, though, happens all the time...).

In short, a standard betrayal made sweeter by the participation of new player.

- Niilo


Ian Eastmond wrote:

They enter a town being attacked by an army of giant frogs.

They start fighting the frogs and when they knock the first one unconscious (and dying) it turns into a child.

Oooh, that IS diabolic :)


But Why...
In my opinion this is the worst thing you can do to a player, or players. Make a generic npc, we shall call him Greg, now make Greg not important to the story what so ever. Now have Greg get attacked by muggers or bandits, the party will save Greg if they are good. Now after they save Greg, make it known to the players that Greg is not important at all and he should have been killed. Chances are you will have that one player who will let that go to his/her head and make their prime goal to protect Greg, we shall call them Tim. Have Greg attempt to leave the party/go down a dark ally/open a door, when one of your other party members, most likely Tim, decides they should do it instead, have them hit with NPC Kill Trap that they survive. Here you talk to players and say it was meant for Greg. At this point it is pretty clear that Greg is now an NPC attachment to the party and Tim will most likely try to get leadership just to have Greg as a cohort. Now you break the primary rule, Split the party and ensure that Tim and Greg are one group. Have Greg almost set off a trap, only for Tim to step in and do it himself, dealing near fatal damage. While Tim is wounded have Greg come to assist, only to have him strike the final blow. Reveal Greg to be big bad's minion...watch Tim cry.


H.P. Makelovecraft wrote:

But Why...

In my opinion this is the worst thing you can do to a player, or players. Make a generic npc, we shall call him Greg, now make Greg not important to the story what so ever. Now have Greg get attacked by muggers or bandits, the party will save Greg if they are good. Now after they save Greg, make it known to the players that Greg is not important at all and he should have been killed. Chances are you will have that one player who will let that go to his/her head and make their prime goal to protect Greg, we shall call them Tim. Have Greg attempt to leave the party/go down a dark ally/open a door, when one of your other party members, most likely Tim, decides they should do it instead, have them hit with NPC Kill Trap that they survive. Here you talk to players and say it was meant for Greg. At this point it is pretty clear that Greg is now an NPC attachment to the party and Tim will most likely try to get leadership just to have Greg as a cohort. Now you break the primary rule, Split the party and ensure that Tim and Greg are one group. Have Greg almost set off a trap, only for Tim to step in and do it himself, dealing near fatal damage. While Tim is wounded have Greg come to assist, only to have him strike the final blow. Reveal Greg to be big bad's minion...watch Tim cry.

So much for 'Makelovecraft' :P


Tels wrote:
So much for 'Makelovecraft' :P

Make Greg the opposite sex of Tim and try and make them fall in love..then do it...it will be even worse!


A favorite... establish an NPC as a soothsayer CHARLATAN. Someone who's good at Sense Motive and generally is successful at bilking the commoners out of hard-earned coppers. Let him or her make some outrageous 'prophecies' at the PCs when they're on their way out to a dungeon-crawl, or on their way back from same.

Once the PCs are used to ignoring this doomsayer, have him/her possessed by an entity with REAL powers of prophecy -- a god, some powerful outsider, etc. Even an Imp has Commune once a week...

Then, when the PCs are heading out again, hit them with a REAL prophecy, which includes some important strategy tips for (x) situation... which they ignore, naturally.

This is particularly fun when instances of real prophecy are intermittent; once they figure out that the soothsayer HAS power, you can set them up with fake ones that cause them to go on wild goose chases, until they start ignoring it again... and then give them real advice.

Note: this often results in getting your NPC killed off after a while. But it's fun while it lasts.


Tels wrote:


So much for 'Makelovecraft' :P

Make Lovecraft, not Warcraft. :P

Scarab Sages

Revolving Pit Trap

This one is good for low to mid level PCs. Fun, but not necessarily lethal.

This is a pit trap in a long straight corridor. The corridor is 10 ft wide and 15' high. The pit itself is the width of the corridor and 30' long and at least 20' deep (make it deeper and/or add spikes to make it more deadly). The 30' section of floor covering the pit revolves on an axle in the middle (15' fromt he edge of the pit). The mechanism is set to revolve in only one direction, so that it is possible to walk out into the middle of the pit cover, and it only begins revolving once the a PC walks out to the middle of the pit, just past the axle.

When activated, the cover revolves, one half rising into the air and the other sinking into the pit, dropping in any characters standing anywhere on the cover. The lid continues to revolve 180 degrees until it is once more horizontal and completely covering/sealing the pit. The pit is insulated so that the screams/shouts of those trapped are very difficult to hear.

This is a PC who is scouting around the corner for his friends.


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A Killing Joke

This is suitable as a trap or a haunt. I prefer it to be a trap if it's placed within a dungeon-type setting and as a haunt if encountered out in the wilderness.

The Setup:
The PCs encounter a surprisingly deep pool, at the bottom of which glitters the telltale sparkle of gold and treasure.

How it becomes a deathtrap:
If your PCs are like mine, at least one of them will invariably be unable to leave the treasure glittering at the bottom and will jump into the pool to retrieve it. The pool is deeper than it looks though, and takes the PC at least a few rounds to swim to the bottom. (I like 50 feet as a depth)

At this point, the trap or haunt triggers, and the PC is the target of a hideous laughter. If the PC saves and picks up some of the treasure, he then finds that it's surprisingly heavy and difficult to swim back out with (increase any Swim/Constitution Check DCs by 5 or 10 or more even depending on how much treasure the character tries to recover).

Bonus Evil DM Points: Include a variant Stone of Weight in the treasure pile that reduces all movement type by 1/2 (not just land speed).

Swim Checks and Movement Speed:

Swim Skill wrote:

Check: Make a Swim check once per round while you are in the water. Success means you may swim at up to half your speed (as a full-round action) or at a quarter of your speed (as a move action). If you fail by 4 or less, you make no progress. If you fail by 5 or more, you go underwater.

If you are underwater, either because you failed a Swim check or because you are swimming underwater intentionally, you must hold your breath. You can hold your breath for a number of rounds equal to twice your Constitution score, but only if you do nothing other than take move actions or free actions. If you take a standard action or a full-round action (such as making an attack), the remainder of the duration for which you can hold your breath is reduced by 1 round. (Effectively, a character in combat can hold his breath only half as long as normal.) After that period of time, you must make a DC 10 Constitution check every round to continue holding your breath. Each round, the DC for that check increases by 1. If you fail the Constitution check, you begin to drown.

What this means: If a character with a typical movement speed of 30ft take a move action to swim under water, they can move 5 feet. (1/4 of 30ft is 7.5, round down). This will take them 10 rounds to swim down to the bottom of a 50 foot pool. At this rate, they can hold their breath for twice their Con score.

If they want to move 15 ft, they can take a full-round action to swim, but it reduces the number of rounds they can hold their breath by 1.

If they fail the save vs hideous laughter, they immediately begin drowning. If they make the save, but pick up the variant stone of weight, they have to make a full round action just to move 5 feet, reducing the rounds they can hold their breath by 1 each time.


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This one is rather specific, so it can't really be dragged and dropped. However, once I had a cult of Vecna the party needed to infiltrate. There were several options, one of which was to inflitrate. One could research and find clues to the trial, but the party did not and simply hijacked a robe and figured out the meeting time.

Now, Vecna is a god of secrets. His initiation ritual is also his initiation trial. Upon entering, the adepts shackle, gag, and blindfold the initiate. They then frisk the initiate looking for any sort of weapons, armor or spells, which they immediately remove. They bind the initate to a chair, and after a short speach, attempt to impail the heart of each initiate with a sword. The survivors pass the test. The trick would be to find a way to smuggle in a way to protect yourself from this attack, be it through sleight of hand or superior or unknown magic. Of course, how does one know to expect the attack to prepare for it?

The Trial of Vecna is to know the Trial of Vecna.


The one thing I ever did as a GM that seriously pissed off my best player was to create an enchanted maze that made the characters turn the opposite direction than the direction they thought they did.

The entire maze radiated slight magic. At specific intersections when the players reached that intersection they had a chance to fail a saving throw to think they turned the opposite direction than the direction they actually turned.

This was back in the days where players drew their own maps.

When his maps became incomprehensible, with passageways overlapping passageways, but never seeming to go up or down, he finally just gave up mapping entirely and they just blundered their way through the maze. He was convinced that I was lying to him (which I was).

After they cornered the boss, he demanded an explanation, so the boss laughed at them and explained the enchantment.

I thought he was gonna hit me.

He was my older brother, and we were quite young at the time...

Grand Lodge

Adamantine Dragon wrote:

The one thing I ever did as a GM that seriously pissed off my best player was to create an enchanted maze that made the characters turn the opposite direction than the direction they thought they did.

The entire maze radiated slight magic. At specific intersections when the players reached that intersection they had a chance to fail a saving throw to think they turned the opposite direction than the direction they actually turned.

This was back in the days where players drew their own maps.

When his maps became incomprehensible, with passageways overlapping passageways, but never seeming to go up or down, he finally just gave up mapping entirely and they just blundered their way through the maze. He was convinced that I was lying to him (which I was).

After they cornered the boss, he demanded an explanation, so the boss laughed at them and explained the enchantment.

I thought he was gonna hit me.

He was my older brother, and we were quite young at the time...

Love it! lol


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There's How Many!?
Many NPCs have minions that are considered to be party of their class features or appropriate equipment. Wizards and Sorcerers have familiars; druids have animal companions; summoners have eidolons; cavaliers, paladins, and even fighters may have trained warhorses; any number of people can have the Leadership feat; and roughly half of the classes can all summon minions with spells like summon nature's ally and summon monster.

These extra creatures are considered to be part of the abilities or treasure of their owner, and thus are never worth experience points, and yet they can make a large difference in the flow of a battle. In many ways, it's almost like getting a GM coupon for extra XP budget with cash back. You get to build a bigger and more robust encounter, but you on a much tighter XP point budget. This is often considered an abuse of the challenge system, and you will probably be branded an absolute douche, but we're okay with that, right? :D

Here are some examples...

"Summmon Monster "
The party has made their way to the fortress, lair, or area that is currently housing, owned by, or occupied by an evil cult who has demonic or infernal ties. The primary foe that the party faces are summoners and their eidolons, further augmented by summon monster spells cast from their daily spells or via wands. Their eidolons are modeled after fiends, so all possess the flight evolution, which means they won't mind when the summoners spam pit spells.

Encounter Level: CR 7 (3,200 XP)
Enemies: 5 3rd level summoners (CR 2) + 1 1st level summoner (CR 1), 5 3HD eidolons, 1 1HD eidolon. Total enemies: 12 3HD creatures, 2 1HD creatures, plus up to 24 summoned summon monster III creatures (such as dretches).
Tactics: The eidolons have flight. Possibly possessing weapon proficiencies as well, letting them shoot at the party, or they may just lob alchemist fires or acid flasks while the summoners cast pit traps around the battlefield, or cast summon monster III from wands with 1-2 charges each. Just for extra giggles, Summoners and their Eidolons have Endurance and Diehard.


Respawn

The party has fought many vermin to get to the BBEG - a giant intelligent vermin. Once BBEG is destroyed the party begins to loot the room which has especially crumbly walls. As they begin to remove treasure and walls fall away, it turns out the treasure was hiding nests of more vermin...which spit out the tiny swarms that collectively feed the BBEG and keep him alive. By the time the PC's realize this the creature's back on it's feet; Round 2...


Extradimensional Metallophage Parasites

...nasty critters from the elemental plane of Earth; they look like gemstones (give a high-DC appraise check, craft/jeweler, or knowledge/nature check to notice they aren't topazes or something) and are possessed of a special sense for extradimensional spaces, which they have learned often contain gobs of their favorite foods: precious metals.

Either found as 'treasure' and dropped into the ubiquitous handy haversack, or crawling in on their own, they proceed to eat a coin a day until they have eaten as many coinsworth of gp as they have HD (usually 2-3). Then they spawn a 1 HD offspring, which also proceeds to munch on coinage; young must eat 3gp value in coins to reach 2HD, at which point they can begin spawning.

Progresses much like a bacteriological infection, until no more coins are left...


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

I have a monk/wizard in my game that has all the qualities you'd expect (speedy, high dex, etc.) who likes to cast Grease spells and often does so very effectively.

So let him find a room where I put a treasure in the middle of a room with a trap that covered the entire room in grease spells and summoned a number of shadows. So he could move fast, slip and get hit more easily by shadows, or move slowly to avoid falling nd still get hit a lot by the shadows.


Cross a locust swarm with a rust monster. it flys, its immune to weapons, and it eats your treasure.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

I also had a dungeon with a necromancer in it who used non-aggressive undead (skeletons in tattered clothing) as torch bearers .....after the party got used to them and stopped worrying about them, they came to a pair who had large skins of oil sewn into their rib cages under the clothing ...... And as the party got partway past them they each thrust their torches into the skins of oil and ... Booommm!!!!!


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Brambleman wrote:
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.

Have the illusory spot be less dusty than the rest of the bridge .... The spell caster may have included some dust as part of the illusion but if time has past then the rest of the bridge may have more dust (or old, moisture, footprints, etc.) and a perception check may notice the difference.

Grand Lodge

Fenrat wrote:
Brambleman wrote:
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.
Have the illusory spot be less dusty than the rest of the bridge .... The spell caster may have included some dust as part of the illusion but if time has past then the rest of the bridge may have more dust (or old, moisture, footprints, etc.) and a perception check may notice the difference.

I have used this one.

Scarab Sages

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I am seriously hoping my DM doesn't find this thread. I'm certainly not going to show him.
On the other hand, youall are geniouses
On the other hand, you are all sick.

I applaud you.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Incorporeal monster that only does ability damage. Against a party without magic weapons.


An encounter I plan to use tonight has this, a large room with a grid like floor, about 10x10 holes, with 20ft wide walk ways. A flesh golem with a brain from UM. The brain gives him the feats for greater bull rushing. Create some appropriate animated object ballistae who have the ability to use awesome blow through their shots ( give them about 10 shots each) under the gridded floor, there is about a 60ft drop into chest high water.

A permanent anti magic field is in place enveloping lower level, in the water is swarms of zombied leeches. Make it easy enough to climb the rough hewn walls though, (dc 20, 15 for adequate handholds, +5 for slipperiness)and....a resetting shocking grasp gridded floor just to give the golem the staying power he needs. All in all, should be a good fight for them, especially if someone "flies" down to help his allies with their leech problem, or carry them up to safety! Ha!


A 20 or 30 ft. pit trap. Instead of a floor, there's 10-20 feet of water (or acid or magma if you're super evil). No falling damage, but the climb DC is +5 because everything is wet, and slippery and they still have to swim to the surface first. Add in swarm. Now you're down a 50 foot hole, 20 of it is water or something worse, and it's filled with tiny critters trying to eat you. Do you spend the whole round trying to get to the surface and climb out or do you try to take down the swarm? Guaranteed to cause much exasperation and indecision among party members who did not fall.

Also, monkey swarms. If the party is ever climbing in the jungle, hundreds of silly monkeys come by. Free disarm/steal every round from each swarm, and the party is taking all sorts of penalties due to being vertical. If the trees are thick enough, give everything concealment. Any items lost are lost forever.


There's lots of "fall in a pit" traps,so how about one more? For low levels: 20' pit into a 1.5 feet of tar, molasses or some other ridiculously slimy, sticky substance. At low level they have no other way out but to climb...covered in goo. Anyone/thing that comes down to help them will only add to the fun.

For mid levels make the pit deeper...and now it's actually a giant spider's lair. Either a "trapdoor" spider where the spider's deeper in and the pit lid above actually caves in so there's no other way out except through the beast or a traditional web spinner.

Lastly for decently equipped/high level characters, make it boiling wax, kept JUST at a simmer. As soon as it starts to cool, it starts to harden...

One thing my players hate? Sundering. Put together a powerful enough stone golem or skeletal champion with Imp Sunder and watch my direct damage, weapon-hungry players squirm.


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This is for mid-to-high level adventurers.

Pit trap that is 15 ft. by 15 ft., but doesn't break until someone steps in the middle (this negates your chance to Reflex save catch the side, which will be important later). At the bottom of the 100 ft. pit there is a pressure plate that triggers a reverse gravity. So the person lands, takes their 10d6 damage, and then falls up to the ceiling. They then take 12d6 (assume 10 foot ceiling) falling damage and hit another pressure plate, which turns off the reverse gravity. It doesn't take long before the unlucky person who is bouncing between the floor and ceiling is battered into a pulp.


dot

Liberty's Edge

Here's an old favorite of mine:

The PCs reach a door that works like one of those old solid (not segmented) garage doors. A 10x10 affair. You know, a big, wide piece of wood or metal that gets slid up following its runners and becomes basically flush with the ceiling.

This one, however, is weighted, and the next room is an obvious pit. The portion of the door that was previously the top of the door swings down, hinging on the part of the door that WAS the bottom of the door, sweeping through and knocking any PCs near the door into the pit for falling damage, at the bottom of which are monsters/undead.

Now, there's a ladder to descend into the pit so that the party can reunite, but the ladder is metal and trapped with shocking grasp, so when the party gets 20 feet down (Adjust pit size to party level), the trap is activated and everyone on the ladder needs to make a reflex save for half damage and a fortitude save not to be blown off of the ladder and take falling damage.

So the basic alignment of the trap is (X marks the part of the door that swings down and WAS the top)...
Door.......Opened........
x.........._______x......
|
|
|

So the X slides up, along the cieling, and then swings down, hinging on the opposite side of the door. Bigger doors will knock in more PCs, but size the door to knock in less than half of the party.


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The Devils are in the Details
Take a scary setting, like some sort of profane cathedral, and decorate the inside with statues of various beings. Describe it to your Players for a few rooms. Then, when they've become used to the description, have an enemy trip the defenses of the sanctuary... a trap which casts Stone to Flesh on select statues of devils through out the building.

Bonus points are awarded if you've also described lots of hanging chains, and some of the statues as being Kytons. Now the PCs have to fight all these enemies, which will be coming in a set of waves to smite them.

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It seemed like a Good Idea at the Time
Give your PCs a reason to block and barricade doors behind them, such as a big baddy that is well beyond their ability which is chasing them... then put a timer on how long they have to get back out through the doors, such as through rising water levels, or collapsing ceilings, or just about anything. Watch as they struggle to get back through the doors they blocked. Laugh evilly if it suits you.

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How Did That Get Here?
Have a Mirror of Opposition installed in the PCs home base while they're out adventuring, or in their inn rooms while they're taking their ease... basically, anywhere that their guard would reasonably be down and they wouldn't be expecting it.

Witness the ensuing catastrophe.

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Looking Would Have Been Less Painful
Take a gaze attack monster, such as a basilisk or a Medusa, and put them in a room with plenty of mirrors about, so that the PCs think they can just use the "averting your gaze" ability to kill it. Then start asking people who say they are averting their gazes to make saves... the mirrored surfaces are actually a host of mirror magic items, like Mirrors of Life Trapping, Opposition, or Mind Switch. For added fun, you can make some of the mirrors into intelligent items and give them special abilities to use spells to compel people to look at them. Even if the Gaze attack monster is at or below the level of enemies the party routinely deals with, the mirrors and their effects will ensure the encounter becomes memorable (and highly dangerous).


Bait and Switch
A BBEG that maintains a well-known, visible base of operations in an area (usually as tyrant), but disguises its identity as something else. For instance, a dragon that uses illusion magic or a Collar of Disguise to make its color appear to be something else. Or lich who masquerades as a vampire. Let the PCs research the foe, uncover its false weaknesses and invade its lair... only to find out that their preparations have been misplaced. The Resist Fire scrolls don't protect against the dragon's lightning. Or the wooden stakes prove ineffective.


Shadowdweller wrote:

Bait and Switch

A BBEG that maintains a well-known, visible base of operations in an area (usually as tyrant), but disguises its identity as something else. For instance, a dragon that uses illusion magic or a Collar of Disguise to make its color appear to be something else. Or lich who masquerades as a vampire. Let the PCs research the foe, uncover its false weaknesses and invade its lair... only to find out that their preparations have been misplaced. The Resist Fire scrolls don't protect against the dragon's lightning. Or the wooden stakes prove ineffective.

Ooh, I really like this one. :D


SO dotted.

You, sirs and madams are absolutely evil and I love you for it.
Also, if any of my players ever tries to kill me for using one of your ideas, I will of course point them to you, as is in the spirit of this thread.

Liberty's Edge

Ian Eastmond wrote:

I believe one of my favorites was a game I ran where a group of 2nd Lvl PCs, 2 Paladins (1 Halfling, 1 Human) and 4 others; pretty much most of the party are Lawful Good knight-types.

They enter a town being attacked by an army of giant frogs.

They start fighting the frogs and when they knock the first one unconscious (and dying) it turns into a child.

Spellcraft and Knowledge checks reveal that all of these frogs are polymorphed children that were kidnapped months ago from the same town, by lizardmen from the swamp.

The halfling paladin suddenly gets swallowed whole by a giant frog.

Hilarity ensues as they attempt to complete the fight dealing (mostly) non-lethal damage to the horde of frogs so as not to accidentally kill them, while simlutaneously trying to get the halfling out of the frog without it turning into a child with him in its stomach.

They thought that was sick and wrong of me, it was priceless. They managed to pull it off without breaking their vows, but they were thinking really hard about every move.

Thank you, Ian. I used a variation of this in my last session. I was lucky enough to have one of my players specifically state at the beginning of my campaign (well over a year ago) that above all else, he would love and protect children. He was the one to cause a frog that had swallowed an adult elf to revert back into a child. I had the child explode. The look on his face was priceless. He later confided in me that he thought the child would just appear on the ground next to the adult.

I now have the party hooked hard. I can throw anything at them and they are not going to turn back. Additionally, the player plans on spending a sizable amount of money to resurrect the child. Double bonus.

So again, thank you. An awesome idea with perfect execution !


Degenerate serpentfolk (CR 4), advanced simple template (CR +1), 10th level Zen Archer Monk (CR +5) = CR 10. Bodyguards in a group of 4+ for maximum nastiness.

For everything else, there's Blastercard.


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Fun with CRs - The Dread Kobold
Everyone knows that you can be pretty nasty with kobolds. Let's face it, they're small, they're quick, they use so many traps that their traps are probably trapped, and they fight dirty. They also get a -1 CR adjustment for being kinda sucky. A whole -1 CR. A kobold is -1 CR from whatever they would normally be if they were a different race.

Of all their traits, the -1 CR is the nastiest of all. It gives GMs a simple way of making elite uber kobolds that are CR 1/3 or 1/2, by adding more levels or templates. For example, the Advanced Template is +1 CR, which makes a kobold the same CR as orcs, goblins, etc. Except, kobolds are getting a sweet deal for this.

The kobold goes from having -4 Str, +2 Dex, -2 Con, and +1 natural armor to having +0 Str, +6 Dex, +2 Con, +4 Int, +4 Wis, +4 Cha, and +3 natural armor. Suddenly, your kobolds look less like this and more like this or this. The kobold now has an effective +2 strength when compared to other small creatures like halflings, goblins, and gnomes, a whopping +6 Dexterity (beating out even goblins), +2 Con (suck it gnomes), and mental stats that give them a good case for actually being related to dragons.

All of that bundled into a small creature with a 30 ft. speed makes for a very scary little humanoid. Their AC alone is pretty astounding, as the have at least a +3 Dex to AC, and +3 natural armor, +1 for size. If you made them archers or ranged attackers, they'd be pretty scary. Drop a few of these kobolds into some of those situations from my earlier posts and your PCs might be running for the hills!

The advanced template isn't the only one you can have fun with on this one, but it demonstrates the idea the easiest. :P

Sovereign Court

Druid Tree Assassins

One of the ones that my gaming group joked about in 3.5 was about the Druid Tree Assassins.

It involved the following.

The party is wandering through an enchanted forest. All the trees detect as magical because of the history of the region. All through the day the party doesn't encounter any trouble, and night begins to fall.

The party makes camp, and sets a watch.

Unbeknownst to them, one (or more) of the trees nearby is actually a Druid with Tree Shape cast. The Druid(s) have Eschew Materials, if necessary.

Said Druid starts casting Silent Stilled Call Lightning. The sky darkens, and lightning bolts shoot down from the sky, hitting the party. They all try to make Perception checks, and are met with "All you see around you are trees".

If there's more than 1 Druid, the other Druid(s) who are also Tree-Shaped start casting Silent Stilled Summon Nature Ally spells.

Perception checks reveal only trees, and the summoned monsters.

We all got a good laugh out of it, and hoped that one day it would appear in a Living Greyhawk module (one of our friends was in the Ket Triad).

Dark Archive

Irranshalee wrote:
Ian Eastmond wrote:

I believe one of my favorites was a game I ran where a group of 2nd Lvl PCs, 2 Paladins (1 Halfling, 1 Human) and 4 others; pretty much most of the party are Lawful Good knight-types.

They enter a town being attacked by an army of giant frogs.

They start fighting the frogs and when they knock the first one unconscious (and dying) it turns into a child.

Spellcraft and Knowledge checks reveal that all of these frogs are polymorphed children that were kidnapped months ago from the same town, by lizardmen from the swamp.

The halfling paladin suddenly gets swallowed whole by a giant frog.

Hilarity ensues as they attempt to complete the fight dealing (mostly) non-lethal damage to the horde of frogs so as not to accidentally kill them, while simlutaneously trying to get the halfling out of the frog without it turning into a child with him in its stomach.

They thought that was sick and wrong of me, it was priceless. They managed to pull it off without breaking their vows, but they were thinking really hard about every move.

Thank you, Ian. I used a variation of this in my last session. I was lucky enough to have one of my players specifically state at the beginning of my campaign (well over a year ago) that above all else, he would love and protect children. He was the one to cause a frog that had swallowed an adult elf to revert back into a child. I had the child explode. The look on his face was priceless. He later confided in me that he thought the child would just appear on the ground next to the adult.

I now have the party hooked hard. I can throw anything at them and they are not going to turn back. Additionally, the player plans on spending a sizable amount of money to resurrect the child. Double bonus.

So again, thank you. An awesome idea with perfect execution !

*sniff* ...so devious, choked up with pride! (wipes away tear)


I started picking these up in the 90's

Grand Lodge

Turin the Mad wrote:

Degenerate serpentfolk (CR 4), advanced simple template (CR +1), 10th level Zen Archer Monk (CR +5) = CR 10. Bodyguards in a group of 4+ for maximum nastiness.

For everything else, there's Blastercard.

That's a CR 15 Monster not CR 10.


Into the cube!

(This one fits best in a somewhat mechanical-themed dungeon. I used it when I was playing with clockwork creatures.)

PCs enter a nice, long hallway. 10ft. x 10ft. in height and width, and 100ft. long. The door they come in is at one end, the door out is right in the middle of the hall, and the far end is a dead end with a gelatinous cube waiting in it.

Whether the PCs see the cube or not, they're likely to move towards the other exit, perhaps doing so quickly, in hopes of getting there before the cube can reach them (that being if they spot the cube).

Just on the other side of the door is a 15ft. long, 5ft. wide hallway ending in a locked door. The floor is a large pressure plate that triggers at 200lbs (for the average group this will probably trigger at around the point that the 1st or 2nd PC steps onto it). When the pressure plate is triggered the hall outside rotates vertically (the exit door being treated as the axis). Any PCs left in the hall are now directly above the gelatinous cube with nothing to stand on (treat a fall onto the cube as falling into water 10ft. deep, automatically engulfing the fallen PC(s) in the cube, and of course potentially paralyzing them). The cube should take damage as if from falling objects from PCs falling onto it, 3d6 for a medium PC, 2d6 for a small one. The walls of this newly created shaft can be climbed with a DC15 climb check

At the same time that the hall outside rotates, the walls on both sides of the short 15ft. long exit corridor open to reveal six 5x5 compartments, 3 on each side, each of which houses a single human zombie. These zombies easily flank in such close-quarters, and fight to the death. Should their room run out of living opponents they dive into the gelatinous cube below, potentially damaging PCs within the cube, and the cube itself as medium-sized falling objects (3d6 damage per falling zombie), and then continuing to attack PCs trapped in the cube (treat as attacking with a bludgeoning weapon underwater). Zombies are immune to gelatinous cube paralysis, and to the nonlethal damage of falling into water, but not to the cube's acid).

Fortunately, the ones who made it through the door (and don't have too much trouble with zombies) can still shoot down at the cube that's now below them, which may well be a saving grace for those who fall. This encounter could still quite easily spiral into a TPK for an unprepared party though.


So, this is one for higher level PCs, however, it has enough variables that can be manipulated that you can raise or drop the CR as you please. Taken from the Module: A Paladin in Hell (Written by Monte Cooke).

The Quick and the Dead Trap (CR 17)

The trap takes place on a stairwell with a landing. The walls and the floor/stairs are made of stone, and the stairwell has no railing. It should be noted that the stairwell is an area that is warded against teleportation and dimensional doors/Ethereal Jaunts. The walls are mildly magical. The trap has three parts:

The Landing:

Basic pit trap. Anything that is foolish enough to walk on the landing is dropped into a pit. The floor of the pit is covered in spikes. Choose your favorite poison, and the ceiling comes down like a hydraulic press for good measure. In addition, until dead, a Steel Portcullis comes down through the doorway, preventing you from exiting the stairwell...except by going up the stairs.

The Stairs:

Ah, your party saw through the Pit trap? Guess what? walking anymore than half way up the stairs causes the stairs to become greased (with mineral oil) ramp, dropping the PCs down into the Pit Trap. See part 1. XP

The Walls:

Ah, so your monk has decided to not touch the stairs, and bounce from wall to wall/shimmy up the walls. The first time a creature makes it up the stairwell halfway without touching the stairs, and Alarm spell activates alerting the occupants in the room above. The walls chain together two spells as the trap: Greater Dispel Magic followed by Flesh to Stone. If the PC fails the fort save, they fall on the stairs...which activates Part 2.

Bonus Round:

A Erinyes and a Succubus, one a Sorc and the a Wizard, live in the room above. Both have access to fifth level spells, as well as an unstable Orb of Annhilation.

Have fun!


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Charisma Damage? Psshh who cares about charisma?!:

Forgive my memory on this; it was quite a while back. Shortly after purchasing Heroes of Horror, I was inspired to run a one night horror themed adventure. I had all the players bring their favorite PC's of all time (instant fondness and desire for the character to survive that you otherwise lack in a one off adventure)

One of the first creatures the party fought was a ghost that did 1d2 charisma damage, two hits when full attacking. Fighter runs up and hits it, but doesn’t kill it. He gets hit twice in return and takes 3 Cha damage. He responds, "Charisma damage? I'm a fighter, who cares about charisma!?" I smile.

The party dispatches the ghost and wouldn't you know it, the cleric doesn't have anything to heal ability damage prepared. "No worries, charisma isn't important for the fighter, we'll get you fixed up tomorrow". I smile.

Somewhere in the mansion, a grandfather clock strikes the hour and the party hears rattling chains. Shortly thereafter, the ghost sets on them once again. This time the fighter takes 4 charisma damage before they finish off the ghost. The fighter looks at his character sheet and says, "Uh guys, charisma was my dump stat. I only have 3 charisma left." I smile.

An hour later the party hears the clock strike the hour and they hear more rattling chains. The ghost reappears shortly thereafter and the fighter, trying to avoid melee now, takes 2 charisma damage before they dispatch the ghost. "Guys, one more point and I'm dead. Wait, if it kills me do I become one?" I smile.

An hour later the clock strikes the hour, and they hear more rattling chains. The ghost reappears and the fighter throws the casters at the ghost.

I smile.

Sovereign Court

Two things:

First was actually an adventure from an early issue of Dungeon magazine. Party is told of a rampaging white dragon in the hills near town. They find an eyewitness (a simple shepard) who points them in the direction of where he saw the dragon go. Party goes into the dragons lair buffed to the gills with anti-cold spells, fireballs, and all sorts of anti-white dragon stuff. The albino red dragon proceeds to stomp on the party. I killed half of them with this gem :D

The second one was from back in 2nd edition times. The party of 3 adventurers (fighter,cleric/wizard, and evoker) is walking down the road when a group of orogs appears in frint of them and attacks. While the party is engaged 2 wizards teleport in behind them. The first one casts haste on the party (no save). The second casts the Chaos spell on them, which back then was an incredibly broken spell.The only one who even gets a save is the fighter and he rolls a one. He then proceeds to chop up the orogs and the 2 squishies (one of whom was his sister). Spell ends, wizards teleport out, and the fighter is left with 2 dead compatriots. Unhappiness with me ensued :D

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