Use Magic Device for disabling magical traps


Homebrew


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've always had a hard time envisioning how rogues use Disable Device to disable magical traps. In many cases a magical trap isn't anything like a "device" -- it's a symbol drawn on the wall, or maybe just an aura of magical potential hanging in the air.

So I was thinking, as a house rule, that magical traps must be disabled with Use Magic Device. As that's the skill for making magic items do what you want them to even when normally you shouldn't be able to, it seems to fit. Also, UMD very rarely sees any use in my games, so it would be nice to give it some spotlight.

Can anyone think of a reason why that would be a horrible, game-breaking problem?


the biggest thing I can see, is that everyone can then do it, and it limits the potential the rogue (insert other trapfinders here) has during a dungeon crawl...Which is breaking for the trapfinder...makes them obsolete in a way. and it gives some other classes more versatility than they originally had.

As for a symbol type of spell trap, there was a comic in Order of the Stick where the rogue scratched the spell "words" in the right spot to disable it.

its good if the party doesn't have a trapfinder...I would say try it for a bit. Let your players know its a trial basis, and see if it will break the game to where its not fun.

Liberty's Edge

I'm generally against anything that nerfs the rogue. Beyond that, I think use magic device is a generally powerful skill. Knock out your party's cleric at some point and watch them cry that they don't have a UMD character to use his wands.


Game breaking no, but make the rogue completely obsolete instead of mostly obsolete, yes.

If you're doing this I'd give the Rogue something(he could use something already but since this is one of the few roles he still does well ...)

I'd say throw the Rogue full BAB in exchange and make sure to change all the things which give trapfinding currently to make UMD a class skill and usable with Dex instead of Cha also as house rules.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I should maybe clarify that *only rogues* would be able to use UMD to disable magical traps. Just like currently, only rogues can use Disable Device to disable magical traps.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ShadowcatX wrote:
Knock out your party's cleric at some point and watch them cry that they don't have a UMD character to use his wands.

Yeah, I've done that, and crying did not happen. Like I said, UMD does not see much use in my game.


Michael Gentry wrote:
I should maybe clarify that *only rogues* would be able to use UMD to disable magical traps. Just like currently, only rogues can use Disable Device to disable magical traps.

Ah k. Well still a straight nerf to rogues as they tend not to prioritize charisma over dexterity ever so the rolls are going to be lower by a fair margin. Also I don't think any items providing +X bonuses to UMD exist while there are a fair number for disable device.

As for a way to think of it that makes it work well every magical spell has to be anchored in some way in order to function long term as a trap right? So it has a control crystal/spell storing crystal or runes and some kind of triggering spell which likewise has to be anchored long term so you could just think of the disable device check as the Rogue fiddling with the crystals or scribbling out parts of the runes.

Alternatively you could always run it the way they did in a book I read where the standard trap spells always have a secret way through(since somebody put them there and undoubtedly wants a way in/out) and the secret to get past them can be learned by anyone as long as they know the right person to talk to and have enough coin, so the disable device check could just be them getting into the right place and saying the right things to make the trap shut off sort of like a command code.


How do modern theives bypass or disable hi-tech security systems? Alarms have sensors, keypads, activations. You might use these as examples for your magical traps.

I like to think of a magical trap I had years ago. There was a dense, iron urn bolted to a pedestal at the end of a hall. There were also scratch marks on the floor indicating the thing turned. Finally there was a section of wall that had a seam around it as if it were in fact a doorway. The Party had rolled well while announcing they were searching for secret doors but before opening it they wanted to look for traps - their rolls were very poor there.

So the trap works like this: a Shocking Grasp spell was placed on the urn with the trigger being turning the thing to open the secret door. The way to disarm the trap then would have been to either do something to ground the charge or otherwise negate the electricity. There also might have been bypasses to turn the pedestal instead of the urn. Finally the exact method of operation was a complex series of back and forth turns that opened the door.

Now you might say "well, the guy isn't really disarming the trap, just bypassing the effect" but that in itself is a way to disarm it. You see, most magic traps go off and then "poof"; the magic is gone. "Disarming" the trap may just mean a way to set it off in a way where no one is is hurt by it. Here's another example:

The PCs come into a hall 20' wide by 30' long. In the center of this hall is a statue sculpted from volcanic rock. The floor is cracked and ancient; with the height of the ceilings and width of the hall standard illuminations don't reveal any obvious signs of a trap. At the far end of the hall are 2 doors; both are locked and can be opened with keys on the statue.

Detecting traps reveals very subtle scorch marks on the floor; an exceptional roll (DC 30 or higher) displays the scorches mark off a 15' cone ending where it envelopes the statue. Any sort of roll also shows the party a monstrous face glaring at the statue on the wall behind the party.

The trigger is proximity; movement around the statue. The face then "breathes" a 15' cone of flame a la Burning Hands. Bypassing the trap means very subtle movement to remove the keys from the statue from a distance. Disarming this particular trap involves backing the party to the side walls, just outside the cone's radius, then purposely setting off the trap. Of course the whole thing can just be ignored by picking the door's locks, but they might find these too dificult to deal with.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

My arguement boils down to 2 facts:
1) Use Magic Device = activates magic devices, not stopping them from working
2) Disable Device = stops things from working, in this case a magic trap, essentially a magic item built using different rules

The skill is called Use Magic Device, which allows you to activate magical items you normally could not. So you want the rogue to activate the magic within the trap?

Why are you so keen on having a new use for UMD? Disable Device seems much more appropriate to the task of stopping a magic device, in this case a trap, from functioning.

If the reason is to cut down on the skills levied against the rogue, there is a reason rogues get so many skill points. And that is they can be used to fill a variety of skill niches the rest of the party may be lacking. Choices must be made, sometimes difficult choices that may make a player unhappy they can't do everything. So what?

Or are you trying to work with a rogue that is more of a face character and is lacking in Dex? Then it would be a case of priorities.

If you just want to see more uses for UMD, create unique items (doors, machines, books, etc) that require UMD to use the item. Items that can only be held by one player but may require arcane and divine magic to power. Items that can only be activated by a certain class or unique race. Items that have variant tyes of magic to activate, which the party would not know how to use. You are the GM, you don't have to only use what has been created for you. Create things yourself!


@ Joey's Cousin (Friends?): I think the OP's concern was more along these lines:

Turtle Troll wrote:


I've always had a hard time envisioning how rogues use Disable Device to disable magical traps. In many cases a magical trap isn't anything like a "device" -- it's a symbol drawn on the wall, or maybe just an aura of magical potential hanging in the air.

So he seems to be looking at the reality of the fluff surrounding a magic trap, not the game mechanics. I'm of the opinion though that you just leave it as Disable Device and merely re-fluff magic traps as needed.

Its easier to change a glyph on a wall into an infra-red alarm system than to modify a game mechanic with far-reaching implications.


backing up what Mark Hoover said:

Rogues are characters in a world of mechanical and magical devices, just as modern car mechanics are in a world of mechanical and electrical devices. any disabler is as good as her tools. imagine your Rogue carrying around a light-weight magical equivalent of a digital ohmmeter with her that bears no other magical function than to sense and diagnose magical circuits. maybe this tool looks like a wand? also, for a Rogue without picks (that's -2), maybe she has attuned her hearing (or other 'feeling' sense) slightly into a frequency that magical auras emit sound waves. ever hear of those people who can 'hear' when the tv is on even if the volume is at 0? yeah, like that...

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