Dungeons filled with monsters, illusionary bridges or Mimics pretending to be cobblestones are all well and good in a high fantasy dungeon where there is plenty of magic. The challenge of trapping a dungeon in a low fantasy realm is a bit harder. There’s only so much you can do with hiding bear traps in the loose rocks near the cave mouth, right?
This post has 24 ideas for low fantasy booby traps for your dungeon. Add your own suggestions in the comments below and see if your idea becomes a DM favourite!
- Uneven stone cobbles, carefully laid to obscure their lack of uniformity and maximise their tripping hazard. Placed deliberately just where intruders might need to run.
- An oiled ramp or incline with loose material at the bottom to make lots of noise should any intruders slide into it.
- A nightingale floor.
- A pressure plate that shoots a metal spike straight up.
- Spikes on the shadowy roof just where intruders might need to jump.
- A glue sap trap where the floor looks glossy but stepping on to it will adhere the intruder to the surface. The sap is weak to acid and partially melts with fire and beyond that needs a strength check to escape from.
- A fragile floor that drops into an infested water system complete with disease carrying waterborne nasties. Especially effective against heavy armour wearers.
- Tripwires attached to a basket of scorpions, centipedes or snakes. This trap was popular with Viet Cong guerrilla fighters in real life.
- A pressure plate that first triggers a bear trap style grip to hold the intruder in place and then launch a poison tipped harpoon at the target spot.
- A floor set on a hinge with a counterweight concealed behind a wall. Anything that weighs more than few pounds will tilt the floor on the hinge, slide into a pit and have the floor slam shut above them.
- A grasping vine trap where, at first, the floor looks to be overgrown with vines, moss and other appropriate vegetation but hidden in the foliage are poisoned hooks and barbs.
- Quicksand with a layer of gravel on the top to disguise it as part of a dungeon or catacomb tunnel.
- Fish hooks on hard to see wires, hanging at eye level in the darkness.
- A narrow hallway with a grate on the floor over a fire pit below. Walking over the grate only discomforts the intruders until a timed mechanism (or a minion) activates a hidden billows that sends gusts of air into the pit, causing the flames to roar up and burn anyone still standing there.
- In a palace or mercantile setting have a room generously supplied with pillows and soft furniture with heavy perfume disguising the smell of the airborne poison that squirts up into the air if anyone sits down.
- Ball bearing hidden under floor-tiles.
- Simple broken bottles and rusty nails can be effective enough in settings with tetanus or poor sanitation as a whole.
- A tripwire artfully hidden in the shadow of another tripwire; disarming the first carries the risk of triggering the unseen second.
- A chest clearly visible and yet strangely marked with a chalk circle – paranoid intruders may debate the wisdom of approaching it for a very long time.
- A grate over a large pool of water from which tentacles or the hands of aquatic creatures reach up through.
- A pocket of gas at the bottom of a long tunnel or passageway; impossible to see or smell but dangerous to spend too much time in.
- A tripwire hidden among spiderwebs.
- A torch that sets of a counterweight once removed from the wall; could trigger poison darts, dropped doors, blade swings, log rams or any other traditional ‘Indiana Jones style’ trap.
- Floor boards held up by weak springs which, when people start to walk on them, sink down to reveal blades between them.
Still looking for booby trap ideas? Check out the comments below or dig into some classic RPG literature in the form of Grimtooth’s Traps.