I’ve got a session this Sunday where the players are invading a dangerous, undoubtably trap filled Dwarven ruins.

I’ve got a session this Sunday where the players are invading a dangerous, undoubtably trap filled Dwarven ruins.

I’ve got a session this Sunday where the players are invading a dangerous, undoubtably trap filled Dwarven ruins. While I have some ideas, I’d love to hear from the community. Let’s hear your best Dwarven themed traps, monsters, and set pieces!

12 thoughts on “I’ve got a session this Sunday where the players are invading a dangerous, undoubtably trap filled Dwarven ruins.”

  1. Elemental-summoning hidden runes.

    Pits and traps hidden by perspective.

    The ever-present collapsing tunnels. Keep in mind they are not goblins, and give every trap a sense of sobriety and doom, as in “we are destroying our beloved work so you won’t pass”. Traps must be designed not to kill cruelly, but swiftly and effectively.

  2. Start with the Mines of Moria, add undead and insane dwarven clockwork constructs, Bake for one hundred years.

    Add a colony of friendly fungus folk, and a sunless sea level at the bottom with an aboleth and slaves that destroyed the city and mix.

    Serve with a hidden dwarven treasure room and hostile party of murder hobos. Serve chilled..

  3. A bound fire elemental that is willing to make a deal for it’s release. He has information you need, but won’t tell you anything concrete until he’s set free. Will he keep his word? Will you keep yours? Good old fashioned Prisoner’s dilemma.

    The old Alchemical Lab. After centuries of rot the seals have broken on some of the….experiments. Everyone hates oozes.

    The Abandoned Golemworks. They carry on, uncaring, the heavy iron golems of all shapes and sizes. The ghouls that live here are clever enough to memorize their patterns and lure the character to be crushed beneath them. Defy Danger rolls abound!

  4. There’s a cavernous spiral stairwell 10 meters wide or so with intricately carved defensive points every half turn or so.  Points where archers could fire up (or down) in safety, making it difficult for soldiers to advance without becoming pincushions.  No more Dwarves, no more archers…. but a narrow, winding stairwell that has probably become coated in slippery moss over the years.   Kobolds might try to trap the party on their way back out using the upper fighting points to siege the stairwell, negotiating for something they want.

    There’s a side passage running askew to the main tunnel.  A sign, written in a long-forgotten version of Dwarven using antiquated terminology, points towards it.  Around the next bend of the main tunnel mushrooms which release necrotic spores have grown in abundance – the side tunnel loops around after the localized danger.  There’s probably some nice gear, possibly even something the party is hunting, amidst the skeletons scattered under the faintly glowing fungi.

    The sentient ghost of the highest-ranking or nobelest Dwarf, left to die when his dining hall collapsed during the cataclysm, haunts the lower depths.  Its shrieking pierces into the very being of any who hear (1d10 damage to those in the room, 1d4 to those in an adjacent room or passage)  It wants its body excavated and laid to rest in the Dwarven style.  All of its speech causes that damage, it is more than willing to kill the living if they’re not immediately supportive to its cause, and it has little patience for dilly-dallying.

  5. Something from the original Shanarra trilogy.  Maybe one of the party members knows enough dwarvish lore to pull the right pins or right levers in order to collapse a bridge/staircase/whatever in order to separate themselves from whatever is chasing them.

    “Whew!  That was close!”

    Looks around.

    “Uh, are you sure we can get out of here now?”

  6. Room A    ->   Room B   -> Small alcove  ->  Room D

               ENTRANCE                      TREASURE VAULT

    Arrows are doors/doorways.

    The treasure room (Room D) has a rather ‘safe’ trap.  The room before it (Room B), the only way to get inside the vault, has a ceiling posed to drop down and take up the entirety of the room.  When the door between the alcove and Room D is opened it releases a pin in the doorframe, releasing the catch and letting the ceiling in Room B come down.  The room is too big to safely sprint back across (Defy Danger DEX?) and the ceiling waaaay too heavy for a single person to hold up (although multiple people Defying Danger STR might pull it off).  If the ceiling drops anyone inside the vault (alcove and Room D) is sealed in.  There is a large wooden crank resembling a ship’s steering wheel in Room A, outside of the ‘trap’ room, that the guards could use to raise the ceiling.  Of course that’s a lot of rock to move, and would typically take three or four guards in tandem.  I.E. The number you would want present before facing off against the thieving threat in the Vault.  The crank is heavily rotted with time and dampness and will crumble with any pressure.  The small lug it is supposed to rotate is iron, though, and will survive. 

    So, there’s a seam along the perimeter of the ceiling in Room B they might discover.  Both doors into the room open outward. The room itself is bare.  Depending on how long it has been since the trap was reset the walls may be devoid of dust.

    The alcove probably has a few statues of ancient Dwarven royalty.  Maybe some minor treasure, torches and sconces, etc.  A thorough exploration of the door might reveal the pin along the frame.  Maybe. 

    I like this trap because, from worst to best…

    A party with a thief or teleportation powers might get all the way through without difficulty.

    A party who likes problemsolving and Discerns ‘what should we look out for?’ can jam up the trap.  Drag the statues into Room B, drive wedges, come back with iron rods, etc. 

    A party who blunders into it won’t be in the room when it goes off.  Now there are Defy rolls to hold it up a bit while party members scurry through.  Maybe it takes all of them but one to just lift it off the ground – now that one guy has the spotlight, having to figure out how to turn that tiny lug.

    It’s dangerous.  If someone hangs out in the blantant trap room they’ll probably have a Dex Or Die roll.  Their body, if wearing ridged armor or carrying a pack full of stuff, will probably hold the roof up high enough for the rest to escape.

  7. In one area they are ambushed by several very stealthy elephants. 

    In another area they find an artifact table, engraved on the table is the artifact table. This pattern is recursive, each carved table containing an image of another carved table, down as small as they can see. Time and space behave strangely around the table. When looked at out of the corner of your eye, it glows blue.

  8. Several Dwarves are wandering the halls on fire.  They are going about their daily business, but in the process are lighting everything around them ablaze.

  9. The reason the Dwarven ruins are so trap laden is important. Why did they leave all the traps behind? I assume they aren’t there anymore? 

    Re Traps:

    1. There must a be a trap that drops the party onto/into a Gelatinous Cube. Dropping a Gelatinous Cube onto the party is also acceptable.


    2. The Dwarves have “entombed” a horde of ghouls within small hollowed out areas in the ceiling of a room. The ghouls have been there ever since the Dwarves left … they haven’t eaten in all that time. They’re insane with hunger; they can smell the party. 

    There is a chest in the middle of the room. Open the chest, the false ceiling collapses dropping the hungry down on the party …

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