16 thoughts on “When there is no thief in the party, how do you handle other characters trying to find and disable traps?”

  1. If there’s traps to be dealt with, and no one is a Thief or has the Thief’s trap move, you deal with this exactly how you deal with any situation where a move isn’t being triggered: you, the GM, navigate the fiction with your own moves. They’re looking to you to find out what happens when they start experimenting with mechanisms, they’re giving you a golden opportunity when they do something stupid like stand on the boobytrapped panel, etc.

    Make use of your moves to Reveal an Unwelcome Truth, Show Signs of an Approaching Threat, Offer Opportunities with or without Costs, Use up their Resources, Put them in a Spot, and Tell them the Requirements/Consequences all as appropriate. Somebody wants to examine the mechanism up close? Cool, maybe they’re risking setting it off and they have to Defy Danger to figure out how it kills… maybe it just takes up a lot of time, and you tell them they’re going to agonize over the holes in the wall for a while. Maybe they start asking about ways to gum up the works, and you start Telling them Requirements or Offer an Opportunity in the form of something nearby that is useful.

    Not having the right move is identical to a move not triggering, so you as the GM continue with your job as normal: keep the conversation going. The topic of conversation is now the trap. The players will do things, and look at you for answers. Make your soft moves that expand on the fiction without bringing down the hammer until they really do something wrong.

  2. My team’s Barbarian started calling himself a thief after disabling every trap in the teams way – by triggering them and either avoiding, or powering through 😉 It was awesome and inspiring in the way “Saw” movies are 😛

    So yeah, what Alfred Rudzki says sums it up pretty nicely, I have not much more to add. You can make a deathtrap dungeon with a thief-less party, just be sure to be fair in describing details, staying true to your Agenda and make Moves that follow. And if players do trigger moves – especially Discern Realities, but not only that one – make sure to ask them to describe exactly how they poke around the place, what they analyse and how. Moves are triggered by doing what their trigger is, not described post factum!

  3. GM moves >> “what do you do” >> trigger PC move or another GM move.

    “The passage ahead of you has these holes on both walls, maybe a dozen each side, between 2 to 4 feet off the ground, covering a space that’s about 3 feet wide. Each hole is like an inch wide. You barely even spotted them in your flickering torchlight.” (show them an opportunity that fits a class’s abilities… in this case, it’d sure be nice to have a Thief right now) “What do you do?”

    “Is there any way to get down the corridor without passing between those holes?” (asking for more info about what they see)

    “Only if you can figure out a way to over them or under them. Like I said, the lowest one is about a foot off the ground and the highest is about 4 feet up. The ceiling is vaulted, starting about 5 feet up, vaulting to maybe 8 ft. What do you do?” (tell the requirements and ask)

    “Huh. I’ll creep closer to those holes and get a closer look. I am NOT stepping between them, though… at most, just putting my torch in there and looking carefully around the edges, or at the holes themselves.”

    “Sounds like your’e Discerning Realities. Roll it.”

    “Huh. 7. Well… what should I be on the lookout for?”

    “Well, your caution is well-founded. As you get closer, you see tacky brown stuff sort of dripping from the holes. And then, on the floor, you see more of it… like a dried puddle, really. Blood, you’re sure of it. And when you get closer, you can see a little glint of metal down those holes. You’re guessing this is a spear trap, or something like it.”

    “Can I tell what triggers it?”

    “Not specifically. I mean, it didn’t go off when your torch got in front of the holes, but otherwise… nothing’s immediately obvious. If you want to try and figure that out, tell me how you do it.” (tell them the requirements and ask)

    (other PC) “I’m an educated woman. Do I know anything about spear traps… or, like, the engineering involved? Spout Lore?”

    “Sure, roll it.”


    “Well, sure. I mean, the obvious thing is that there has to be some sort of trigger, right? Either mechanical, like a trip wire or a pressure plate, or some magical detection. Or, I guess that someone could be watching and trigger it manually? What do you do?”

    “I cast Detect Magic, looking for some sort of trigger. Crap… 8. Well, how about I draw unwanted attention or put myself in a spot. What happens? Anything magical?”

    “No, nothing magical in this corridor except what you brought with you. So the the trigger must be mechanical. As for the attention or the spot… Ranger, your hound starts whining a little, then growling, staring out of your torchlight down the passage you just came from. You know what this means… something’s coming towards you. You can either stay here and face them or try to get past that trap, what do you do?”

    “Crap crap crap. Guys, I think we need to crawl under these holes. It’s probably a pressure plate, so the spears will go right over us.”

    “Is that what you do? Start crawling under the holes? If so, you’ll probably want to take your packs off and toss them to the other side… otherwise, they’ll be poking up and get hit by the spears. And you’ll be Defying Danger with DEX. You do it? And if so, who goes first?”

    etc. etc. etc.

  4. Chris Stone-Bush I agree and thats what I usually do. Next question. If you allow them to roll defy danger, do you let them roll with DEX as the thief or must they use another stat such as INT? If you let them do it with Dex, what would you say is the benefit of being a thief with the tricks of the trade move?

  5. The stat the player rolls with depends on what the character is doing.

    If the stat used for Defy Danger happens to be DEX though, then Tricks of the Trade is still somewhat better as the Thief has more control over the situation on a7-9 result. Also, if someone other than the Thief gets a 7-9 result when dealing with a trap, the GM should take the fact they’re not a Thief into consideration when offering that worse outcome, hard bargain, or ugly choice.

  6. I don’t really use them if there isn’t a thief. If I do, they are one time traps they can defy danger against or traps that can be disabled some other way, like a trap that lets out a monster or living statue.

  7. To add what everyone else has said; npcs, compendium classes, limited use and gameplay as Jeremy describes. I also like to give out magical items or spells based on skills the party may need but doesn’t have. A magical trap detector. chime of opening, enchanted lockpicks, etc.

  8. P.S.S.

    You can let the characters overcome the traps in their own special way. I wouldn’t leave out traps entirely. They are just too much fun, and i NEVER play a thief/rouge

  9. Thank you all for your responses. The intention behind the question was to see the overall impression on the move. My group is starting to see the issues with the system and we are currently discussing them. Everyone has different ways of handling it and some of you may say there isnt an issue to begin with. Your responses will help us decide how to deal with it or if it may be time to move to another system.

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