Deadly Dungeons 29: The Weathered Door

Weathered DoorOf late, I’ve been trying to work on creative tricks and traps which don’t rely quite so much on magic. Which isn’t to say I don’t like magic. A look back through previous deadly dungeons posts will show just how much I love the idea of insane wizards making fucked up nonsense because they don’t have anything better to do with their immense power. But I feel as though I’ve relied too heavily on magic as a crutch in my game design, so I’m trying to push myself to create interesting challenges which could be crafted by thieves, or primitive peoples.

This door will probably make the most sense if it is in a windswept, possibly sandy location. Somewhere that wood would be stripped without being damaged to the point of being structurally unsound.

This is a wooden double door. It is clearly dilapidated, the wood has deep grooves in it and splinters easily, but is still quite sturdy. Each of the two doors has horizontal metal handles. On each door, above the handles, are two vertical strips which are clearly discolored from the rest of the door. It’s obvious something was once there but is not any longer.

A cursory examination of the handles will reveal that there is blue paint on the parts of it which are protected from the weather. Closely examining the discolored vertical lines on the door will also reveal small flecks of blue paint there. They are small enough that a person would need good light to see them, and cannot be rushed.

If pulled, the handles do not open the door. In fact, they are not even connected to the door. They are instead fitted to small panels in the wood. These panels are well crafted enough that only a successful search roll will find them. Once removed, the panels release small gas canisters which instantly blast anyone standing within 5ft of the door, requiring them to make a save versus poison. Fortunately, this gas is very old and should have been replaced long ago. On a failed poison save, roll 1d6 to determine the effect:

  1. Death.
  2. A permanent 1d6 reduction of a random stat (roll 1d6).
  3. A permanent reduction of 1 to a random stat (roll 1d6).
  4. The character becomes violently ill, and becomes completely incapacitated for 2 weeks. After this time, no ill effects are suffered.
  5. The character spends 10 minutes being violently ill. The noise, and the smell, attract a nearby monster.
  6. The victim’s body actually reacts well to the aged poison, and they heal 1d6 damage.

If the characters instead turn the handles before pulling them–so that the horizontal handle is instead vertical, the panels will lock in place. This will allow characters to open the doors safely. The fact that the handles can turn is not immediately obvious, as the pivoting point has become jammed with debris. But once the characters decide to make an effort to turn the handle, it can be done with only minor difficulty.

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One thought on “Deadly Dungeons 29: The Weathered Door”

  1. This is pretty clever, the whole idea around the pivoting handles opening the mechanism to allow the door to swing clear. I like it.

    As for the stripped wood, since you describe the doors as thick (in addition to stripped/damaged, surface-wise) it’s not a far cry to assume that, even if the dried out wood were scraped at, the stuff on the inside would be structurally sound. So there’s that!

    My only problem lies in your poison, in that it seems quite harsh for what should be a trap for low-level PCs. Permanent reductions are a penalty I’ve not seen jive very well with players at all, though using ability damage (which heals quite slowly) might be better, your mileage may vary. The same goes for the “and you’re dead” roll, sure it’s only 1 in 6 and on a failed save no less, but if the poison has aged to the point where it should have been replaced, I don’t see why it should be a save or die sort of thing.

    In my experience, I’d have the death effect for NPCs only, like if they sent Joe Schmoe 75 to open the door just in case of traps, sure. I know that’d work better with my players, they insist on combat being rolled out even when clearly (CLEARLY, like we’re talking spitting on the Orc Chief at level two) overmatched, just in case they have an idea that pans out.

    What about something like..

    Weathered Door Gas – Poison (Inhaled) – Fort Save DC 10 (plus ECL of party at the time) – Instant Effect (failure indicates a roll on the chart)

    1 – Victim suffers 1d6 ability damage to one physical (str/dex/con) and one mental attribute (int/wis/cha), determined at random. (roll 1d3 for each)
    2 – Victim suffers 1d4 ability damage to one physical (str/dex/con) attribute
    3 – Victim suffers 1d4 ability damage to one mental (int/wis/cha) attribute
    4 – Victim is paralyzed for 1d12 minutes. During this time she appears to be dead, with rigor mortis having set in entirely. She can still breathe (very light, too light to notice regularly) and think and is aware of what is happening, she is merely unable to move or react.
    5 – The character spends 10 minutes being violently ill (treat as nauseated). The noise, and the smell, attract a nearby monster.
    6 – The victim’s body actually reacts well to the aged poison, and they heal 1d4 ability damage.

    That is of course assuming you’re using this for DnD 3.0/3.5 or Pathfinder d20. >.>;;

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