I’m usually not very creative when it comes to traps. A pit trap, falling rock trap, or maybe poison arrow trap are my go to’s.
The Goonies movie has some of my favorite traps ever, and I’m disappointed in myself for not working harder to use them in play.
The Goonies traps have a quality that I feel I SHOULD be emulating, but I’ve gotten so used to “standard roleplaying traps” that I just throw them in as a quick hazard.
What is that quality? Tension!
They take a little time to fully go into effect. What does that do? It adds tension and drama. They can see it coming. They know they’re going to get crushed by the gigantic falling rock (rather than just getting crushed by a gigantic rock), or fall to their deaths if they don’t play the piano correctly – “If you don’t play this right, we’ll all b flat”. It’s not “we triggered a trip wire and a rock fell on us”. It’s a LOT more tense than that. They add tension in another way too by slowing them down, allowing the Fratelli’s to catch up. Each time the kids got a good lead on the villains, a trap slowed them down just enough to let the Fratelli’s catch up again.
Now I’m not saying that every scene or game should be a chase. But I think traps should add tension, and not just be a quick hazard. I’m going to try very hard in the future to make my traps tension-generators rather than hazards, and I feel that DW’s narrative structure is the BEST way to achieve that!
How have you used traps as tension-generators? I’d love some ideas for my future campaigns!