Dungeons & Dragons Online

Questions About Traps

Content of the article: "Questions About Traps"

WARNING to Gerran, Brix, Olga, and Wollyn… read no further.

I am a new DM playing 5e and am trying to incorporate traps into my dungeons. I've read the pages in the DM's guide (120-123) and listened to a few videos about how they work. I'm still struggling to envision what it looks like in action. If this seems like a better fit for a different DnD sub, please let me know.

My current understanding: If I've got something wrong, PLEASE let me know.

  1. Trap (whether setback, dangerous, or deadly) is set. Stats include Save DC, Attack Bonus, and damage range. (Question #1)
  2. PCs approach. Check if any PCs have high enough passive perception to notice anything. Listen for PCs doing anything investigative and ask for relevant ability checks if needed to see if they detect the trap. (Question #1)
  3. If trap is not noticed, whoever encounters it first triggers it. (Question #2)
  4. PCs may need to roll for initiative depending on the trap. (Question #3)
  5. PC(s) rolls a saving throw. PC's roll must beat the trap's Save DC. (Question #4)
  6. If they aren't "saved" I roll for damage. (Question #4)


  1. In the DM's Guide, it says "the DC to spot the trap is 10." How is that different than passive perception?
  2. If PCs are traveling as a group and haven't rolled for initiative, is there a subtle way to know who triggers the trap? Or should I have them roll for initiate as soon as they're in the tunnel and might encounter the trap?
  3. If the trap is ongoing (e.g. water or gas fills a chamber), do PCs then roll for initiative? For trap #2, do I need to calculate gas spread over time in the chamber or is there a simpler way to approach it?
  4. How does the "saving throw" fit into the usual process of comparing an attack against AC? I've read that part of the DM's Guide (pg 238) but it's a bit sparse.
  5. Do you know of any good video or audio examples where PCs encounter traps and they walk through the process clearly?
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If it makes a difference, here are the traps I'm thinking about. They are loosely based on the intro scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. PCs are in an underground tunnel and need to get to the other end to complete a task.

  • They see a slim gap in the tunnel where the walls open into the dark. A broad (hard to avoid) flagstone serves as the pressure trigger. When triggered, a huge double-bladed axe swings across the the tunnel.
  • PCs go through an unlocked door. They see a closed chamber. Another closed door is at the other end of the long room. Statues of people/creatures frozen in terror and pain litter the room. Turning the door handle triggers the trap, and a poisonous gas emerges that turns people to stone.
  • A beam of light enters through the roof of the tunnel and is bounced around a section of hall with tiny mirrors set in the stone (think laser traps in a heist movie). If the beam of light is disrupted, poised darts spray from small holes in the wall.

Thanks to anyone who took the time to read and give advice– I really appreciate it!

Source: reddit.com

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