Each of the three “Against The Giants” modules, which I recently picked up as pdfs, serve the player with a similar task. Assault the fortress of some giants–be they of hill, frost, or fire variety. This presents an odd problem if the GM is attempting to portray the giants intelligently. What’s to stop every giant in the place from descending on top of the players, swarming them with more foes than they can handle? And if the players need to retreat to tend their wounds, why wouldn’t the giants fortify their positions against further invasion, thus making it difficult or impossible for the adventurers to return?
After all, a fortress isn’t like a dungeon. A dungeon is simply filled with monsters, who may or may not be working in conjunction with other creatures in the dungeon. But at best a given creature will control only part of a dungeon. A fortress is a different matter entirely. The nature of a fortress is that everyone within is working together to mount a singular defense against outside intrusion. Gygax recommends that, once the players have the giants on the defensive, the giants will set up ambushes and traps. I can’t help but wonder why the Giants don’t use their time to, ya know, lock the door. Maybe bar it from the inside.
Perhaps an analysis of NPC “A.I.” is in order, but that’s for another post. Lets imagine that the players never left the fortress in the first place Or they did, but they’re very skilled at scaling walls and shuffling through air ducts. The giants can’t keep them out for whatever reason, so they’re forced to come up with a trap which will be effective, and can be ready to go before the PCs get back.
I came up with the fallback corridor, which doesn’t require much. The most important element is a hallway with pillars, or anything a sizable number of folks could hide behind. Everything else the trap requires should be easy to locate in any local: a large, thick tarp or blanket, weights, and rope.
The blanket, with as much weight attached to its edges as possible, is suspended from the ceiling. Ropes are used to form a crude trip line mechanism which will release the tarp from its suspension, dropping it on whatever unsuspecting interlopers are snooping about below.
Once the blanket falls, the adventurers will be blinded to anything around them, while remaining highly visible (as big lumps) to attackers. I would say that disorientation & the weights on the tarp will prevent the players from acting for at least 1 round. After that, they’re entitled to a dexterity check (In Pathfinder, DC: 14) to escape on the 2nd round. If that is failed, the players can automatically free themselves by the third round.
While the players fumble to escape from the ridiculous prison, the giants hiding behind the pillars will have ample time to step out, fire a round from their crossbows or hurl a boulder, then flee down the corridor and around the corner. Of course, there ought to be some chance for them to miss, but I don’t think it should be too high. Perhaps 30% concealment at most. The trapped adventurers should probably not receive a dexterity bonus to their armor class either.
The trap is stupidly simple, but should be an effective way of waging guerrilla war against the guerrillas who invaded your fortress.
Some options to make the trap more interesting or deadly:
- Secret doors behind the pillars allow the giants to escape quickly.
- Instead of using a tripwire, one of the giants has mounted a mirror high on the wall where it is unlikely to be noticed. It allows him to spy on the corridor without poking his head out, and if enemies wander by, he can manually release the tarp by tugging on the rope.
- Even if the players have a difficult time getting out from under the tarp, they will likely see the giants flee (assuming there are no secret doors). The giants would recognize this, and assuming the players give chase, they could be led directly into a second trap.