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The basic setup is thus -
The players wake up in a dungeon.
Above them, members of their family are trapped in cages suspended from the ceiling. Above that, maybe 60' from the floor, are long windows of a viewing gallery. A fancy looking eccentric is surrounded by a large variety of well dressed individuals sipping champagne and sampling canapés while peering down at the PCs.
"Hello and welcome to Terence Rapmaster's 31st Annual Trap Expo and Dungeon of Terror! Any traps you see here today are available for purchase after the show.
"Below us are our involunteers. In the likely event of their death and dismemberment at the hands of the traps of this establishment, another member of their statistically improbably statistically identical family members will be released to take their place.
"Around the maze are chests which, though potentially also trapped, may contain items that will give you a competitive edge. Find the exit and you and your remaining family are free to leave.
"In the centre of the room you will find some mercifully untrapped items to assist you, don't say I don't do anything for you lovelies. Good luck!"
Terence and the socialites will follow the party around from room to room watching their progress. Every room has some sort of viewing gallery, usually high up, which allows the guests to view the proceedings. Terence himself will make pithy comments and bad puns as the PCs experience the many traps in the maze, occasionally spruiking their price and describing the vagaries of magic items for the assembled audience.
The family members are replacement characters with identical stats. They have two spare family members each, and when they die another character is released from their cage in the central chamber. Due to Terence's ongoing commentary the new character knows pretty much everything the old one did.
Three lives! Use them wisely.
When replaced, the player must name the new character and state their relationship to the deceased.
"Bob 2, Bob's brother" is, of course, totally acceptable.
|Bereft of scanner, I present this crudely cropped photograph|
The dungeon is loosely themed around a bunch of different elements. See Room (8) for a picture of it.
The layout came to me in a dream and since I only had a couple of days to go until game day I was very glad to have the inspiration.
The traps are meant to start out more classic and traditional in the centre and get more ridiculous and esoteric as you get to the edges. Magic items found in one side of the dungeon tend to be useful for traps on the opposite side, both for irony's sake and to make the dungeon get easier over time, and if the players happen to head away from the exit they'll generally find more helpful items for the same reason.
Rooms are usually lit by ever-burning torches in sconces which can be removed easily and safely. Light's not meant to be a big issue here. Every room and corridor has magical unbreakable glass (installed after the contestants broke through and killed everyone at the party a few years ago) through which the trap and its effects can be viewed.
Obviously these traps are based around player skill. If you use pathfindery perception and disable device checks it'll be much more boring.
Pictures of the original design/inspiration included when I can find it!
Though the map has charming little memory joggers drawn all over it so you might be able to use it like a one-page dungeon, here are the traps in detail.
Hallway Trapsa. Flame trap operated by pressure plate. 2d6 damage, save vs breath for half.
b. Covered pit trap. 10' deep. 1d6 fall damage.
c. Stairs become ramp halfway down, slide towards (11). Save vs Paralyse to catch yourself but anyone that fails knocks down everyone below them anyway.
d. Ramp drops at the top to release a rolling boulder when a pressure plate is stepped on halfway down. Checks depend on what the players do to escape. If it gets them they're squished no save.
e. Mirror gives impression of continuing corridor across 50' deep pit but is, in fact, reflecting a fake corridor set at a 90 degree angle. Fake corridors lead to short fake room painted like the lava room in (4), candles behind holes in wall give impression of glowing lava from a distance.
f. Entire staircase built on axle in centre. If weight unbalanced at top, whole thing spins into spikes.
i. 30' pit behind black curtain. 3d6 damage.
j. Long, low passage requires crawling. Rubber wheels in walls send them flying into spike wall.
m. Green slime. A classic!
n. Metal vault door has wheel to open it and lifts upwards. Warm to the touch - contains molten lead that spills out under the door and down the stairs if opened.
p. Dip in passageway (see picture), upper section contains pure hydrogen. Detonates if torches brought in. 3d6 damage, Save vs Breath halves.
Room Traps1. Central room. No traps! Replacement family members in cages.
Four coloured archways: North - Red, East - White, South - Blue, West - Brown.
In centre of room - Two 10' poles, a sling, a bag of 20 rocks, a lantern with oil.
2. Room is warm.
Weapon rack attached to north wall holds a sword, axe, hammer, spear and shield. Each, if examined, has metal wire spiraling down the hilt from the head.
Weapon heads lean on incredibly hot metal nodes, conducting intense heat through the heads and the wires. Picking one up without taking it off the node and letting it cool down deals 1d6 damage.
3. Black stone golem on slim walkway across a lake of boiling wax.
Wax vapor fills the steamy air and the bubbling wax has slopped all over the walkway.
The golem has 6HD and is made of flint. Striking the golem with steel creates an explosion in the paraffin-fume air for 2d6 damage, throwing the golem backwards 20' and the striker back 50'.
|See, Patrick? It's in the book!|
Room is stinking hot, especially close to the two open holes in the glass in the corners of the room.
Long, low corridor has a chest and a glowing sign at the end, but the words on the sign cannot be made out at distance.
Halfway along the corridor the magma begins rising in the main room, being forced up through the open holes and spreading across the entrance to the long corridor.
Sign says "You blew it!", chest contains Helm of Internal Oxygen Supply. Works via a small portal that leads to a Rapmaster-brand Air Box in which your personal supply of air is stored (array of scented airs available for premium customers). The portal, of course, works both ways, so taking the helm off underwater or in poisonous gas will fill your personal air storage with that substance.
An island pokes out from the lake, on which can be seen a chest.
An illusory boat bobs about on the gas, anyone attempting to get in will fall through into the poisonous cloud.
A fishing rod is buried in the sand of the beach. It seems to have something tugging on the end of the line. If the sand is dug away, it will be discovered to be merely two foot deep with the fishing rod held steady within a stone tube. Any person gripping the rod will have their hands magically glued to it. Pulling the rod from the stone tube or otherwise releasing the tension means the person will be slingshotted far across to the island where they will take 2d6 damage on impact.
The chest contains a Belt of Levitation that causes the wearer to float 5' above the ground. Needless to say, the poison gas is not solid ground.
Rickety room laid out like an empty room of a dilapidated house. Hole in centre of floor goes clear down three storeys.
Rickety wooden beam across hole in centre is safe but looks splintery and awful. North wall looks like it could collapse any moment but has thin ledge you could walk on. If you walk on the north ledge the wall will collapse and throw you to your doom. South wall looks safer but the thin ledge is much more cracked and horrible. If you walk on the south ledge it will collapse from under you and send you falling to your doom.
Behind north wall is a chest on a section of dependable dungeon floor. The chest contains a Whistle of Turkey Summoning which, if blown, summons a turkey onto your head. It is the same turkey each time, so if you get the turkey killed you'll keep teleporting the turkey's corpse onto your head.
7. Doors close on entry and re-open on their own after 30 minutes.
3-inch holes in glass floor, murky and poisonous green-tinged water beneath.
Lever in centre of room. Pull it and the water heats up, becoming hot enough to create steam in a couple of minutes. This fills the room with poisonous steam and cooks those within for ten minutes.
8. Balcony overlooking diagram of dungeon theme areas, oriented to the dungeon layout.
The layout is painted on wooden floor. If someone jumps off the balcony the boards are spring loaded with blades between, annihilating their legs.
9. Pit trap seems to be a short jump over a 40' deep pit to the chest on the opposite side of the room, in fact there is just a wall painted like that attached to the ceiling in between.
Chest does actually exist if you can swing under the wall somehow and contains a Crown of Darkest Timeline - creates a ghost of you who goes towards the nearest trap and gets killed by a spectral version of it. 3 charges.
Door on west wall releases poisoned dart from small hole in east wall to hit the opener at arse-level. If party members are in between they might get hit instead. Save or die.
Behind door, a chest containing a Ring of Door Passing - allows you to walk straight through doors (and only doors) like they ain't even there.
10. Chest in centre of pool on small island.
Pool contains three 2HD water elementals. Chest contains a Ring of Plant Control - psychic mastery over plants and plant monsters.
11. A bare room with three trapdoors on the ceiling and holes around the upper walls.
The trapdoors have got a skull, an hourglass and a black cat painted on respectively.
Steel wall slams shut over entrance from (c) and water begins pouring into the room over the next ten minutes.
The trapdoors are set up such that only one can be opened at a time.
The skull trapdoor contains thousands of poisonous spiders. Save or die.
Opening the hourglass trapdoor causes the water to rapidly drain from the room... then refill.
The black cat trapdoor is the exit because cats hate water.
12. Scything blades swing through grooves in the ice-covered floor. Getting the timing right would be easy were it not for the ice. If proper precautions aren't taken, Dex check per blade to avoid 2d6 damage.
13. Pool full of piranha and shark-infested water, small island with chest across lake.
Boat against shore begins leaking halfway across and will sink unless swift action is taken.
Chest contains Ring of Fire Resistance - immunity to flame and steam, half damage from thicker hot substances like lava and boiling wax.
14. 30' pit trap followed by another 30' pit trap with an illusory floor hiding it. Jumping over one will make you fall through the floor into the next.
15. Floor covered in gold coins, ten foot poles, and a chest. Chest contains a Decanter of Endless Water.
Floor is actually thin planks of wood covering murky black piranha-infested water, the weight of a single adventurer will cause everything to collapse.
16. Room halved by glass wall with door in between. Room behind glass contains a chest, a noose attached to the ceiling, and a chair beneath the noose.
When the chest is opened the door slams shut. Inside the chest is a note saying "Tough luck buddy, you're here forever" and a Knife of Eternal Wounds. The knife inflicts wounds which never heal, dealing 1 damage per turn per wound inflicted by the knife... forever.
Sustained weight on the noose for 20 seconds opens the door.
18. Fourteen glass statues stand at attention around the room. If smashed form very sharp shards that go everywhere. If chest opened the guards do not animate as one might expect. Instead the floor hinges downwards at the dotted line to form a funnel that slides everything in the room into a heap in the middle. Deals 1d6 damage plus 1d6 for each statue that has been smashed. Those shards'll getcha.
Chest contains an Armlet of Schadenfreude. Any character who witnesses the death of the wearer gains 1d8 HP even above normal maximum.
19. Spikes slowly emerge from floor and ceiling, ceiling begins moving downwards to crush anyone inside in three rounds. Holes in wall outside north door contain insects and a lever each.
Reaching in to pull a lever requires a Wisdom check (or Willpower, if available) due to the squickiness of the bugs. If failed, next round anybody inside the room can make a Charisma check to force the lever-puller to reach in.
East lever opens the east door but a hand grabs their wrist as they get their hand around the lever, pulling it requires winning a wrestling roll versus the hand.
The west lever opens the west door but its hole contains poisonous bugs which force a Save or Die if gloves or other precautions aren't taken.
20. Fleshy fungal pillar in centre of room has four tentacles and 4HD and can attack up to 4 targets for d4 damage. Killing the plant monster collapses the ceiling around its corpse, dealing 4d4 damage to all inside.
22. Chest in middle of semicircular room. If chest opened, the room spins to reveal a wall of fire arrows which shoot anybody standing back in the corridor. 2 rows of 5 arrows dealing d6 damage each and setting victims on fire as though they're covered in burning oil. The opener of the chest is perfectly safe.
Chest contains Ring of Poison Resistance set with three glowing green gems. Each charge allows the wearer to automatically pass a save versus poison. Three charges, as each charge is used one of the gems stops glowing.
23. Metal fan on ceiling, holes high up on walls, sandy floor, chest.
If chest opened - door locks, fan starts on ceiling, sand flows in from holes, sandy whirlwind starts up. After 2 rounds the sand blast deals 1d6 damage per round for 5 rounds.
Chest contains a geiger counter that crackles based on proximity to magic.
24. Ridiculous wheel trap. Behold diagram. The only difference is that there's no metal wall at the top and the wheels are attached to the walls by long bars, allowing the trap to be reset.
Vines on trees are venomous snakes. Grass tangles your feet and releases a deadly soporific. Even the soil is corrosive.
Rabbit is simply a painted wooden model of a rabbit mounted on a swivel in the stump, and the garden paths are not dangerous.
26. Cut-off pillars are the only means of getting across this room. Fire and spikes cover the floor 100' down. On each pillar is inscribed a letter. The wall reads "Walk in the Name of God".
On the diagram players can jump 6 squares distance safely.
The correct path is IEHOVA.
The wrong pillars do as follows -
J: Collapses. Fall into the fire and die.
S: Sticky. Permanently stuck to pillar, but you could conceivably take off your shoes and keep going.
U: Unstable. Top of the pillar wobbles around, dex check to stay on, another dex check to jump off.
M: Madness. Go insane, attacking anyone who jumps near your pillar.
E: Explosion! Deals 2d6 damage and throws in random direction. Does not apply to the E on the right (soz Patrick).
H: Hands. Hands grab from the wall and hold you while other hands punch you in the face for 1d4 damage per round.
Possible other paths are JEHOVAH, JESUS, IESUS and (in case they went that meta) JAMES. If you're running this dungeon yourself I'd suggest putting your own name in there somehow.
|Movie mystery: If there's no J in the Latin alphabet, who wrote it on the stones?|
27. Door to room has "Over thinking, over analysing, separate the body from the mind" carved into the wood.
In the centre of the room is a dais upon which rests a chest. Mounted on the wall is a glowing green sign depicting a running man, a downward arrow, and a vertical rectangle. If you are running this in a place with an exit sign nearby, describe the nearest exit sign in similar terms.
All of these things are perfectly safe... until the psychic metatrap comes into play.
Whatever traps or evidence of traps the players search for are there. They exist and were already in the room when they entered it because the psychic trap has read the characters' fears via their players.
If outside the room, traps are set off by opening the door. If inside the room, opening the chest or messing with the exit sign sets off all the traps at once then makes the wall slide back to reveal the way out.
For instance if the players check for arrow holes in the walls, there will be arrow holes in the walls from which arrows will fly. If they check for evidence of a crushing ceiling they will find grind marks down the walls. If they look for the seam of a pit trap on the floor they will find the seam of a pit trap all the way across the floor.
If the players don't check for traps they'll be completely safe. It's a pity you've spent a whole dungeon making them paranoid.
To illustrate the final room, when I ran this Chris assumed the clue meant a blade would come out of the wall and cut his head off if he opened the door without courage (literally separating the body from the mind). Verily, when he checked there were slots in the walls through which blades might pop out! Unfortunately even if he had been right they spent another ten minutes or so deliberating and trying out another door, and so they were sprung when he opened the door and cut his head off.
Inside, Paolo (I think it was?) checked the chest for all sorts of poison darts and a poisoned lock and scything blades and discovered it was covered with the things all over every inch of the surface. When Patrick pressed the exit sign, everyone had to save vs death against a spray poisonous darts that hit everyone in the room. Luckily he and Nathan passed their saves and managed to escape the dungeon. Good end!
Since I'm naming people, Barry got the fishing pole from (5) stuck to his hands for basically the whole game, surviving the trap since Paolo had Unseen Servant'd the levitation belt over from the island. The people hanging onto him (Patrick and Nathan) died on impact with the island. Nathan later talked about the game day (including this dungeon!) in a podcast.
My favourite bits were Paolo managing to take off his Belt of Levitation just before he jumped into the mirror pit trap in (e), and everyone's massive paranoia in room 25 as I described a nice safe forest glade with what everyone knew was a wolf-in-sheeps-clothing in the middle of it.