Dwarven traps for a dwarven treasure vault


Liberty's Edge

In my homebrew the party stumbled upon a treasure map to a dwarven engineer's treasure vault. This vault is his best and finest work and something his decendants can be proud of. Now it needs to be infested with traps. Non-magical traps as this dwarf was an engineer not a wizard. Aside from the ones in the book anyone got ideas?

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I once threw a corridor trap into a dwarf hold that basically closes in on all 4 sides crushing the target and then twisting in opposite directions like you were wringing out a wet dish rag...

In a fit of generosity, I let the party see a twisted rusting chunk of metal in the trapped corridor...(I really ought to seek out medical help for that pesky generosity streak)

Yup, you guessed it...the thief rushed into the trap without checking for traps...

"Dibs on any good stuff!" he cried...then cried real tears as the trap was triggered.

They used a grappling hook and rope to drag his remains out of the trap...and set off the trap 2 more times...

"He's already dead! What does a few more points of damage matter anyway?" Otgar The Goblin Slapper, Party Frontline Tank

Not exactly a trap, but I ran a somewhat similar adventure involving a the PCs plundering an old dwarven hall, and I decided it would be fun to put out fake treasure. Of course I put a lot of traps in that area to make it feel authentic. The PCs never thought to even examine the chest full of coins and gems that they found - at least not until they were out of the dungeon. It wasn't until they were counting and divvying the loot up that they realized the coins were garbage and the gems were glass.

Word of warning: don't try that if you doubt your ability to dodge dice. Maybe wear a helmet.

Secret doors are also great, and are a way of showing off a dwarf's skill at stonework.

As far as actual traps go, I'm partial to ones that swing hammers and/or axes, as those are very dwarven weapons. Adding poisons can make things interesting. Perhaps a poison that targets dexterity, so as to make subsequent reflex saves that much harder to pass?


Any Ideas? There was an old Dragon Magazine that had a trap rolling system. Can't recall the number... sorry.

Trap #1 - have all the hallways be only 3 feet tall. Not only is this annoying to tallfolk, it means prone to every trap you run into from there on.

Trap #2 - gas traps are great. hallucinations are best sometimes, as they cause people to set off the next trap.

Trap #3 - axe trap; he is a dwarf after all. dropping down through slits in the ceiling, swinging from wall to wall, what have you.

Trap #4 - crushing traps. ok, everyone out... wait, we are all prone and moving at half speed... that red mush? That is the fighter/rogue who WAS in front. (crush traps with blocked exits work best to TPK, if that is your goal)

Trap #5 - classic pit of spikes. grease on the walls. poison or fungus in the pit.

Trap #6 - gelatinous cube. gelatinous cube in a pit. gelatinous cube exit blocker (running away from a flaming wall of fire the pcs run into one... etc.). Also neat would be a "maze area" with several preassure traps that drop fake walls and loose 10-12 gelatinous cubes into the now huge single room.... I'd name it "There's Always Room for Jello!"

Trap #7 - Lucky traps... well... do you feel lucky punk? Gun traps (if using guns). To hits based on touch, while prone (see #1)...

I mean basically, it all depends on how dead you want the party. A single trap can kill. Or you can make them all maiming type traps (poison that drops dex, etc...). Remember, this is a dwarf who likes his hoard of goodies.


Everyone expects traps going in. Switches/pressure plates perform double duty. Deactivate forward, activate rear. Must step on going both directions for safe passage. Throw in a couple of obviously "disabled" or "spent" traps enroute that are activated by pressure plates further in. Things go click with no effect nearby nor as they go proceed in. As the party retraces the safe and cleared path out, different hazards must be confronted.

Roaches check in. They don't check out.


Two part traps

Congratulations! You've avoided the rock fall from the ceiling trap. But now you feel a sudden rush of wind against your faces, and the earth is rumbling into a crescendo. Nature/engineer check

The rockfall was blocking a drainage tunnel nearby lake/river. Dibs on the potion of waterbreathing. Sucks to be you.

Lead foil lining to prevent scrying. Something else to prevent teleportation. You might have to use magic for that.

A construct of some kind inside the vault.

Liberty's Edge

SlimJamama wrote:

In my homebrew the party stumbled upon a treasure map to a dwarven engineer's treasure vault. This vault is his best and finest work and something his decendants can be proud of. Now it needs to be infested with traps. Non-magical traps as this dwarf was an engineer not a wizard. Aside from the ones in the book anyone got ideas?

Ive just recently played in a campaign where the objective was to gain a dwarven relic from a lost temple of Torag and return it to the dwarves of High Helm. The GM made it very difficult in the trap department. I'll toss out ideas and some of the ones we faced.

Require 2 keys to enter a vault door which need to be turned simultaneously. How the party gets the keys is up to you.

Have several rooms or corridors within the 'vault', not just a single door to a treasure room. Each room or corridor can have a theme, obviously dwarven, and/or purpose.

Room 25ft wide with 10ft statues lining the walls leaving a 5ft path down the middle of the room. The party will immediately think the statues move or are trapped. Do not trap the 1st two statues. Since the trap maker is an engineer make the trap activate via pressure plate. When the pc steps into the square the 2nd set of statues swings the weapons they are holding.

Every door in the vault should be locked and trapped. Of course they should be able to be bypassed if they have the proper means, such as the engineers key ring or something. However, Id make sure they never got those keys and had to 'encounter' the traps.

In a corridor with statues standing in recessed alcoves have another pressure plate trap resulting in two portcullises dropping in front of and behind the PC. The statues then activate slashing into the square the pc is trapped in. After the slashing is over the floor falls out revealing a 30ft pit. 1 round later the floor and the portcullis resets.

In a larger room, say 40x40, have a statue in each corner. I know what your thinking, statues again? No they arent the trap this time. When the lock on the door leaving the room is tampered with it triggers tiny holes in the ceiling and floor to open and begin releasing gas into the room. The gas is the equivalent of a cloudkill effect. Both doors in the room, the one entered through and the one exiting further into the vault should be locked trapping the PCs in the room. The gas fills the room in 3-4 rounds giving the rogue that amount of time to get the door open. The gas stops and is blown out of the room once the door is open.

Put a fake treasure room before the actual treasure room. In the fake treasure room have a great mural or statue of the engineer performing a task. Have a fair amount of gold and mundane items, perhaps enchanted, in this room giving it the appearance of being the engineers treasure. However have a secret door exiting this room, whether below the statue, behind a tapestry, or hidden within the mural that leads to the actual treasure.

In one room have the key required be an item acquired from a previous room. Perhaps a weapon from a statue in room 1 is required to be placed in the hands of a statue in room 3 to unlock the door without tampering with the lock, thus bypassing the gas problem.

For a good one your PC's will love and get a little nostalgic over, think Indiana Jones. In one long corridor the party begins descending at slight angle. Not steep like stairs. Have a pressure plate or in the center of the corridor trigger a ball to fall from the roof of the beginning of the corridor and begin rolling toward the PC's. Each round it gains speed and thus more damage it potentially deals to the PC's it hits. Also the more speed it gains the harder it is to stop it. It should take 4+ rounds for the ball to reach the end of the corridor thus giving the rogue plenty of time to successfully open the door at the end of the hall and save the party from damage.

I have more, but I think ive typed enough. This is already a wall of text. Enjoy and I hope you like the ideas.

Alternatively .... after a right-turn at the end of a hallway, you step into a very, very long corridor with a slight upward slant. The floor curves upward to the walls at your left and your right.

After some time, you hear rumbling and see a large boulder -- it's far from you, but also very fast. There are a couple feet of clearance on the ceiling, but there are no alcoves on either side of the corridor. Quick calculation will determine that you may be able to run back to the turn in the hallway -- if you're fast enough.

Small PCs that can cling to the ceiling may avoid the boulder safely. PCs that backtrack and run away from the boulder automatically fall into a pit trap which was unlocked with the boulder's trigger.

The boulder is illusory.

For added fun, have the illusory boulder repeat on an interval, where one is real.

Something like this would work.

Also here's one I pulled on my players.

When they reach the vault, finally, they see two beams across the door. The rogue picks that lock, after looking for traps of course, the beams swing forward, swatting anyone standing 10 feet in front of the door.

Make a revolving staircase descend without walls, escept for the center beam, over a large chasm. Every time someone takes a step off a stair, it crumbles away. So they descend, maybe leaving a few stairs intact by skipping some. But they gotta come back up too. This is more of a hazard then a trap but it makes them have to figure out how to get down and back up without leaving someone below.

Do a leap of faith bridge from Indiana Jones except there is a hole missing at start of bridge. So doorway, 5 or 10 foot gap, cleverly disguised bridge. As a side note, any of the traps from the Indiana Jones Movies work for non magical.

1 way trap door with beasties is fun to throw against. I feel like although no magic is used. Illusions and Sonic triggered traps are possible through the explination of a light source and finely crafted crystals. Big long hallway and everytime someone makes sound a stalagtite falls. Make a puzzle where striking an anvil with a hammer or some metal blunt object is only way through like a secret knock. Anvil provided only, they gotta bring the hammer.

I hope these ideas help.

Steam power, hydraulics, electricity, clock-work (timed - nothing like a clock ticking to let the pcs know they are under time pressure), chemical attacks, explosives.

Look upon it from a technological point of view, then work backwards.

Liberty's Edge

These are all great and will more than likely make an appearance in my dungeon. I've also thought of a few that would be interesting. For example a trebuchet type floor trap where it throws the "lucky" adventurer for a fun filled ride. I just don't have an appropriate cr for some of these homebrew traps just incase the rogue has to be a big jerk and disable them. but for my trebuchet floor trap here are the stats.

Activated bya pressure plate.
Relfex 23 to avoid
Throws the 50' into a wall for 5d6 damage plus the 20' drop at the end for an additional 2d6

CR5? Maybe?

Any tips?

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