On Traps

Most RPGs (or most variants of D&D, at least) allow PCs to make some kind of roll or skill check to find a trap, and another roll or skill check to disarm the trap.  The benefit of this approach is that it’s fast, which keeps things moving along.

The down side is that you can wind up missing an opportunity for some creative problem solving on the part of the players, which to me is a large part of the fun of old school D&D.  A creative GM might narrate how a character disarms a trap (as we do in our Pathfinder campaign), but it’s still the dice roll that ultimately determines the outcome, not creative play.

So why not combine the two approaches, get the best of both worlds.  Allow a roll or skill check to find the trap.  This speeds up play and avoids ‘pixel bitching,’ which can be frustrating to players.  However, once a trap is found, it’s left to player ingenuity to circumvent, disarm or render harmless a trap.  It could be as simple as marking the trap and going around it, or setting it off from a safe distance, or it could be a crazy scheme involving the expenditure of vast sums and hiring an army of engineers and laborers.  Who cares, so long as the players are having fun.


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