Content of the article: "A simple puzzle/trap for DMs to use in their next dungeon!"
Recently I have been thinking about the old Tomb of Horrors dungeon, and remembered a trap where stairs turned into a ramp that fell into a pool of magma. The parties would step on it, and you would make a saving throw or die. Simple, but not a whole lot of thinking for players.
So I began toying when the ramp concept, and I designed the following puzzle or trap for any DM to use. NOTE this puzzle/trap is designed for low level Characters, if you give it to flying Characters the encounter will probably flop
This encounter is designed to be open ended and designed to reward solving it as intended, not punish solving it in a different way. If you want to make this a puzzle, read the puzzle section, a trap, the trap section. This is designed to work well with Kobolds (Hence why small creatures do not affect either the puzzle or the trap) but this encounter can work well in almost any dungeon designed to protect a loot hoard.
The players enter a room through a doorway. The room is a 30 foot long, 10 foot wide tunnel that continues on the the other side through an identical doorway on the other side to the one they entered through. However, the floor is at an angle, like a ramp going downwards. At the bottom of this ramp is 12 blocks each weighing 500 pounds. The door leading onwards is 20 feet up from the bottom of the ramp.
You may see what this puzzle is already. The entire room is just a large lever, the blocks at the bottom, if moved upwards along the ramp will cause it to teeter, and then fall back the other way allowing the players to continue through the hallway. If they solve the puzzle in this way, they will uncover at the bottom of the now moved ramp a small treasure hidden in the wall that is fitting for the level of adventurers that you have. A small or tiny creature will not cause the ramp to teeter
Alternatively, your players may assemble a grappling hook, or a ladder, or use an item or spell or other abilities to fly up to that height. This is encouraged, as they are solving an issue with a practical solution that should, and does, work.
The room is of the same dimensions as before, but the lever is moved up so that it is level with both the entrance and exit.
Configuring this puzzle into a trap doesn't require a whole lot of work. Instead of being pushed to one side, like a ramp, the floor should be level with both the entrance and exit when they enter. The floor does not tip towards the entrance, it only tips towards the exit. If the players walk further than 15 feet into the room, it will teeter towards the exit, if they get 25 feet into the room the floor will slide and cause them to make a dexterity saving throw or fall into whatever devious contraption that would cause the players damage, such as a pit of acid or a black pudding. You should always telegraph the movement of the lever, the point of this trap is to be interesting and allow the players to feel smart, so for every 5 feet they move past 15 let them know that the room is teetering. A small or tiny creature will not cause the ramp to teeter
The solution is to put more weight than the people crossing the lever on the entrance side of the lever, so no matter where the party is in the room the lever will not teeter into the pit of acid. They can, of course, just fly over the trap, which is why this works better at low levels.
- Tomb of Horrors – Did we break it? *SPOILERS*
- An absolutely lethal trap that I like to call the “Crocodile Toilet”
- The Gauntlet.
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