Clever Trap Crafting
I just wanted to get your thoughts on the types of clever traps that a PC could build for use during a campaign. I've done some reading on other sites as well as tried to come up with my own. One thing that I want to get your opinions on is how "fair" the traps are. It seems as though the intent of the authors when developing rules for craft - trapmaking is that the traps are used in a dungeon, castle, fortress, etc.. setting. The way that I've read it is that's the reasoning behind being able to have automatic reset traps that cost more time and money to craft. Also, magic traps factor in the cost of the spell materials makes me think that there needs to be a bowl of the materials there for the trap to "cast" the spell over and over again. With that being said, I think it's fair for a PC to have portable traps so long as the DM agrees to it.
When I discussed it with my own DM, I described the traps being similar in nature to a military claymore mine. The simplest example I could think of is a low level burning hands magic trap. The PC can set up the traps relatively quickly (1 standard action per trap) while the other PCs plan an ambush. The trigger can be either mechanical or spell triggered (based on how it was crafted). Once the ambush is sprung, the trap(s) go off and the battle is won, the trapper PC can gather the traps to be used in a future battle.
Here are some other "traps" that I've read about / thought of:
Remote "Bomb" - Similar to the claymore mine type trap above but with a remote trigger that can be activated by a PC rather than a mechanical or magical trigger. Perhaps it's something as simple as having the trap activated by a command word and having the PC communicate that word to the trap somehow.
Healing Trap - I've read several examples of this one and it really seems to get abused. One was having a simple needle trap installed onto a breastplate. The needle trap was set up to automatically reset and cast cure light wounds. Every time the PC was hit in combat, the needle trap would go off. The needle would do minimal damage and cure light wounds would go off, healing the PC. Another healing trap I read about was basically a small chamber in a castle. When a PC would enter the chamber, the trap would detect good as a trigger. If it detected good, the trap would activate and cast cure light wounds.
Does this go against the spirit of what trap crafting is all about? Should the trap crafting PC be able craft portable traps? Should "traps" be able to heal? I suppose if you look at it from the perspective of using the "Craft Wondrous Item" feat to create magical traps, I can see how a PC could create a magical device to heal. Maybe I'm just getting hung up on the word "trap".
go look in the arms and equipment guide, there are a series of spikes which you hammer into a spot, and they are basically proximity mines with a big fireball or other energy ball when someone disturbs them or approaches within a few feet. they also turn invisible after being activated, iirc.
also, there is an arrow of cure light wounds in the master of the wild, iirc. painful way of healing, but it magically works. talk about smacking someone to take their mind off of their other wounds....
i believe the stronghold builders guidebook even specifically suggests healing "traps" that your stronghold defenders can use to cure themselves.
so you are not the first to think of this by a long shot. don't forget that healing chamber you described could have an extra trigger for detecting undead, and zap them too.
it is simply taking advantage of the mechanical ideas of traps and turning them to other uses. an example of advanced magical technology, i guess.
Thank you very much for the insightful response, nijineko. I don't have access to any of my books right now but do you know if there is a cooldown period associated with any auto-reset traps? I assume that it would depend on the trap type and what would be considered reasonable; can a spike trap shooting up out of the floor reset itself immediately and go off again and again as long as the trigger remains activated? How many attacks per round does it get? What about magical traps? If I end up making a burning hands trap with an automatic reset and a detect evil trigger, does it go off once per round if a dumb, evil enemy just stands there within range?
If they continually go off once per round, couldn't I just cast a telekinesis spell to lift the portable trap and move it around to keep it close to enemies? Worse yet, I could have a trap that triggers on detect evil, it coats itself with glue and attacks with shocking grasp. Once it sticks to an evil doer, it triggers at shocks the guy each round.
Are portable magic traps like this allowable?
i believe that a trap with an auto reset can attack just once per round, but i may be misremembering. if that is, in fact, correct, then the attack would be a standard action, and the reset a move action. there might be a cost break for magical traps having longer reset times, much as magic items that have limited uses per day might be entitled to a cost break. non-magical traps may or may not have such. there may be some rules (with extra cost, and likely lots of it) about more attacks per round somewhere....
the three de-facto standards of trapmaking are the DMG, the Book of Challenges, and the Stronghold Builders Guidebook, with Arms and Equipment Guide coming in a close fourth.
kobolds have been listed as being able to make and carry portable traps, and there are even examples of some... at the moment the only one that springs to remembrance is the enveloping pit in the Magic Item Compendium. i'm sure i've seen some elsewhere, though.
cursed items are effectively magic traps, and as such, should technically be detectable by a rouge.
by the rules, you absolutely could design such a trap as you describe. allow-ability would be up to the dm, whomever that may be. as a plus, you should make sure you know the hardness and hp of the materials used in the trap, because some bright fighter will simply try to smash it, or a mage will zap it with something, and if it is "unattended" - which your maneuvering via telekinesis would certainly count as, it will have lousy saving throws. which point might soften your dm to the idea, and show that you are just playing smart, not "gamebreaking". keep in mind, that if you can do it, so can anybody else whom is either that smart, or at least smart enough to copy what you are doing.
with a bit more playing around and expense, you could add flight and search functions (possibly via prying eyes, message, & detect or some similar combination) to the trap you describe and you would have a hunter-killer drone/satellite. for a super intelligent (and expensive) one, add metafaculty to it and it could deduce the location of its target.
Thanks for the reply and insight again Nijineko. As always, it's been very helpful. I especially appreciated the thoughts on the hunter/killer drone and the materials having HPs in case the traps get attacked. Maybe I should rig the trap to explode if attacked / destroyed...
one of those spikes i mentioned earlier should do the trick, stick one on the "drone"... however, getting close to anyone might be problematic.... ^^
i was working with a dm on how to make a psionic version of arcane eye which would float around, and record what was happening for later playback. basically a flying camera that recorded combats. they could then be retrieved from the storage crystal and displayed giant holograph style for arena style bets.
one of my characters belonged to a guild or two, and i had this idea of a non-centralized arena-style guild where adventurers go forth and do their thing, record all the combats, return the storage crystals, the guild has a mega-show once a year, with betting on the outcome of the fights, the 'gladiators' get a take of the winnings on their recorded fights. so i started inventing various items and backstory for the guild. quite fun.