Mythic Traps

Traps are dangerous hazards left behind by those wishing to safeguard their lair or a valuable treasure, or who simply wish to set a deadly ambush for intruders. Traps may be simple yet effective, though more memorable traps tend to be complex and interactive. The best way to utilize traps in a mythic campaign is not as an impassable barrier or static deathtrap (though those do have their place), but as part of a larger encounter, with either creatures or other traps forming a dynamic whole.

The rules described here for traps can also be used with very little modification to allow you to create mythic haunts as described in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Gamemastery Guide or similar effects, such as the fey impulses described in Faerie Mysteries from Legendary Games.

Crafting Mythic Traps

To create a mythic trap, you must meet one of the following qualifications:

Skill Training

Mythic character with at least 5 ranks in Craft (traps).

Skill Focus

Mythic character with Skill Focus (Craft [traps]), Learn Ranger TrapUM, Improved Learn Ranger Trap UM, or Advanced Ranger TrapUM.

If you have Mythic Skill Focus (Craft [traps]), Mythic Learn Ranger TrapUM, Mythic Improved Learn Ranger TrapUM, or Mythic Advanced Ranger TrapUM, you reduce the total amount of mythic power required to craft a mythic trap by 1.

Crafting Time

A creature that qualifies to construct mythic traps can craft traps much more quickly than normal. Whenever using the Craft skill to build a trap, use the trap’s gp value as its sp value when determining progress (do not multiply the item’s gp cost by 10 to determine its sp cost). In addition, a mythic trapmaker can expend as many mythic surges as he wishes during each week of work to expedite his progress. This does not include mythic power spent for other purposes, such as to add a mythic trigger or mythic spell effect. Each mythic surge spent to hasten the crafting process adds the result of the crafter’s surge die to the result of the Craft skill check for the purpose of determining weekly progress. These surge dice stack for this purpose. If the crafter has Mythic Skill Focus (Craft [traps]), these surge dice are always maximized when constructing a non-mythic trap.

Mythic Trap Characteristics

The following characteristics are part of a standard trap stat block and are modified as described below for a mythic trap. The adjustment to the trap’s CR based on its increased power is listed in parentheses.

Perception and Disable Device DCs (variable)

When you create a mythic trap using the trap creation rules, you add one-half your mythic tier to its Perception and Disable Device DC; you add your full mythic tier to the DC of Perception and Disable Device checks made by non-mythic creatures. This does not stack with an increase to Perception and Disable Device DCs from casting a mythic trap-like spell, such as glyph of warding or symbol of death. This modifies the trap’s CR based on its Perception and Disable Device DC against mythic creatures.

Trigger (+1 CR)

When crafting a mythic trap to create a proximity, sound, or visual trigger, you can expend two uses of mythic power to allow the trap’s trigger to ignore non-mythic effects that would ordinarily defeat the trap’s trigger, such as silence for a sound trigger, invisibility for a visual trigger, or mind blank or nondetection for a proximity trigger. You do not need to know the mythic version of the spell associated with the trap trigger you create, such as alarm for a proximity trigger.

Duration (see text)

If a mythic trap has a duration that is measured in rounds, you expend mythic power when creating it to increase its duration by a number of rounds equal to the number of uses of mythic power you expend each day during its creation, up to a maximum equal to your mythic tier. This increases the trap’s CR as an encounter by increasing its average damage, as described in Table 13-3 in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, but does not increase its CR for the purpose of the trap’s cost.

Reset (+0 CR)

Mythic traps created with no reset or automatic reset function as do non-mythic traps. For a manual and repair reset traps, use the following rules.

Cost

If any spells are involved in the creation of a manual or repair reset trap, you must pay the material component cost plus 25 gp x the spell’s caster level x spell level for each reset. Manual: You may expend mythic power when creating it to allow the trap to reset itself a number of times equal to the number of uses of mythic power you expend each day of its creation, up to a maximum number of times equal to your mythic tier. You can specify the interval after which your manual trap resets itself, which may be one round, one minute, one hour, or one day. A creature within 10 feet of the trap when it resets can make a Perception check with a penalty equal to your mythic tier as an immediate action against the trap’s Perception DC to notice that the trap has reset; if not noticed, the trap can be triggered again as if it had never been found in the first place. If the reset of the trap would be obvious (GM’s discretion), such as the cover of a pit trap closing, no Perception check is required to notice that it has reset.

Repair

If you expend the raw materials required to repair the trap, along with one use of mythic power for every 100 gp of their value (in total, not each day during the construction of the trap), you can design the trap to repair and reset itself. You can specify the interval at which it does so as a manual trap, and noticing the reset of the trap also follows the rules described for manual traps.

Bypass (variable)

You add your mythic tier to the Perception or Disable Device check required to locate or activate a lock, hidden switch, or hidden lock as a bypass. Adding one of the following special bypass conditions increases a trap’s CR for the purpose of cost but does not increase its CR as an encounter. You can add multiple such triggers to the trap. You must expend one use of mythic power when

Tactile Scan (+1 CR)

If your trap has a touch trigger, you can set it to deactivate when contacted by a specific creature or object, or in a specific pattern, such as a handprint, numerical code, or symbol drawn upon the trap trigger. A tactile scan cannot be fooled by an illusion but can be fooled by a polymorph effect if its Perception check equals or exceeds the Disguise check of the creature attempting to fool it.

Password (+1 CR)

If your trap has a sound trigger, you can set it to deactivate for a specified duration or number of touches of the trap when a specific password is spoken. This increases the trap’s CR for the purpose of cost but does not increase its CR as an encounter.

Visual Scan (+1 CR)

If your trap has a visual trigger, you can set it to deactivate for a specified duration or number of touches of the trap when it sees you or a particular symbol, token, or identifying mark that you designate. A visual scan can be fooled by illusions if its Perception check equals or exceeds the Disguise check of the creature attempting to fool it.

Mythic Trap Effects

Adding a mythic effect to a trap does not necessarily alter its CR, or if it does it operates by the standard rules, since the builder of most traps sets the attack bonus (if the trap requires an attack roll) and damage dealt by the trap. A mythic trap crafter, however, can use the following methods to enhance the traps they create.

Crippling Damage (+2 CR)

In addition to its other effects, your trap causes lingering harm as the fleshcurdleGCC spell (choose an effect randomly, or assign a specific effect at the GM’s discretion based on the nature and function of the trap), though this is an extraordinary effect that lasts until all crippling damage from the trap is cured. Hit point damage or ability damage dealt by the trap is much harder to cure than normal. It is not restored by natural healing unless the damaged creature is on complete rest and a successful Heal check is made against a DC equal to your mythic tier plus the trap’s save DC or attack bonus. Magical effects that normally cure hit point or ability damage have no effect unless the caster succeeds at a caster level check against the same DC. A creature with regeneration can heal crippling damage normally, but a creature with fast healing cannot. A regenerate spell cures crippling damage and immediately removes the fleshcurdle effect (or all such effects, if more than one is present).

Enhanced Critical (+1 CR)

You can expend one use of mythic power each day of a trap’s creation to increase the critical threat range or critical multiplier of a mechanical trap by 1 by increasing the Craft (traps) DC by 5. When you apply either bonus, your trap gains a bonus on attack rolls to confirm critical hits equal to one-half your number of ranks in Craft (traps), and if the target of your trap is using an effect that grants a percentage chance to ignore critical hits it must roll twice and use the worse result when attempting to negate a critical hit by your mythic trap. You can apply the enhanced critical effect multiple times, expending one use of mythic power and adding 5 to the DC each time.

Rather than increasing a trap’s critical threat range or critical multiplier, you may choose to add the effects of a critical feat such as Bleeding Critical or Stunning Critical to your trap. In order to add a critical feat, the sum of your mythic tier plus your number of ranks in Craft (traps) must equal or exceed the base attack bonus prerequisite for that critical feat. If a critical feat has another critical feat as a prerequisite, you must add the prerequisite critical feat first; you cannot otherwise apply more than one critical feat to a trap. If you expend two additional uses of mythic power, you imbue the mythic version of a critical feat into the trap. For the purpose of saving throws related to critical feats, use your number of ranks in Craft (traps) in place of your base attack bonus and your Intelligence modifier in place of your Strength modifier where applicable. Adding the mythic version of a critical feat is treated as adding an additional critical feat. This otherwise functions as increasing the trap’s critical threat range or multiplier.

Imbue Mythic Surge (+0 CR)

You can imbue one or more mythic surges into a trap you create. These mythic surges must be expended during the trap crafting process, and the trap expends one mythic surge each time it is triggered. This mythic surge causes the trap’s effect to be considered a mythic effect, and the result of the surge die (the trap uses its creator’s surge die) is added to the trap’s attack roll or to caster level checks made by the trap if it creates a spell effect. If the trap does not use either type of roll, the surge is still expended when it triggers.

Increased Save DC (+1 CR)

You can imbue one or more uses of mythic power into a trap to increase its save DC by 1 for every 2 uses of mythic power you imbue, up to a maximum of one-half your mythic tier (minimum 1). This save DC increase is equal to your mythic tier rather than one-half your mythic tier for non-mythic creatures. This can increase the save DC of magical or mechanical traps and modifies any save associated with the trap, including saves against poisons or critical feats.

Linked Traps (+1 CR)

If you create multiple dependent traps, wherein the effect of one trap depends on the success of the other, any traps linked to the first trap gain a +2 circumstance bonus on all die rolls against creatures that are affected by the initial trap. This bonus also increases the save DCs of effects related to secondary traps.

If you create the linked that require melee attack rolls, you can construct them in a way that the traps provide flanking for each other. If the traps are triggered sequentially, then the first trap does not gain this bonus. If two traps are triggered simultaneously, then each gains a flanking bonus on its attack roll, unless the target possesses Improved Uncanny Dodge or a similar ability that allows them to negate the effects of flanking.

Mythic Spell Trap (+1 CR or more)

If you are creating a magical trap that creates a spell effect for which you know the mythic version of that spell, such as with the Mythic Spell Lore feat, you can create a trap that creates the mythic version of that spell when it is triggered. You must expend one use of mythic power to prepare the trap to receive the mythic spell, in addition to any mythic power you spend to cast the mythic spell (including its augmented version). If you imbue an augmented version of the spell, you increase the trap’s CR by 1 for each additional use of mythic power required by the augmented version over and above the normal mythic spell.

One-Shot vs. Resetting Traps

The CR modifiers listed below are for one-shot traps; if the trap is able to reset itself, add an additional +1 CR modifier to the trap. Creating the following mythic trap effects typically requires the expenditure of mythic power during the trap’s creation. If the trap can trigger more than once, the creator must multiply the required number of mythic surges by the number of times the trap can be triggered. If it has unlimited automatic resets, the creator multiplies the required number of mythic surges by 50. These surges can be imbued into the trap at any time during the process of its creation.


Narrative Traps

In older roleplaying games, the process of finding and removing traps was less a purely mechanical exercise in checking against a fixed skill on the character sheet. Instead, it was an immersive narrative process of the GM describing the nature of the location where a trap was believed to exist and the players themselves describing the specific actions they wished to take to try circumventing a trap. They would work with the information provided to them by the GM and would have to experiment within the environment to see what they could find. Players would describe specific areas that they characters were checking to find possible triggers, from books on a shelf to discolored bricks or tell-tale scratches, scorch marks, or holes that gave clues to a trap’s presence and its function. If they do not look carefully, they will not find the trap. If they try to disarm it in an improper fashion, they will set it off. A narrative trap system relies far more on what the players say they do than on what the dice say happens.

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is built differently, with a more gamist and less narrativist or naturalist design philosophy in which the capabilities of the character may be entirely divorced from the capabilities of the player sitting at the table. Players might cry foul if their attempts to use skills in a game-mechanical sense were invalidated in favor of forcing them to describe their actions in detail, but it is also a worthwhile experiment for players and GMs alike to work with infusing their descriptions of a situation in the campaign in enough detail to make players feel like they are really there. If a GM gives facile, simplistic descriptions, the players have little to go on. If the GM describes an environment that is rich in detail, it enables players to take those descriptions and run with them, to pick up on small details. If a player describes his character’s actions in detail, it provides the GM the opportunity to play off of that and reveal more and more of what the game world and situation does around him. It is a matter of play style in how textured the background of the adventure is going to be. An overly gamist approach can lead to the sense that the game devolves into a simple die-rolling exercise. The proper balance of this approach depends entirely on your players.

Even if you maintain the standard Pathfinder skill system as the basis for the resolution of trap detection and disarming, you can certainly apply circumstance bonuses based on players being willing to descriptively role-play their actions in carefully examining a room, in much the same way as you might apply a circumstance bonus when a player effectively role-plays a Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate skill check.


Save Or Die

The idea of traps that could actually kill, and kill instantly, has a long history in the game prior to its 3rd edition, though the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game has moved away from this model towards a model based around depletable attributes, generally hit points or points in ability scores. Even “death effects” usually cause massive damage rather than actual death, with circle of death and power word kill being notable exceptions. Very few poisons have specific status-changing effects that take effect immediately. Drow poison and nisharit are notable exceptions, and blue whinnis can cause unconsciousness as a secondary effect, but other core poisons that cause paralysis or unconsciousness are ingested poisons with substantial onset times.

One way to make mythic traps memorable is to increase their lethality. Classic adventures like the Tomb of Horrors were infamous for their devastating traps, but even less notorious dungeons (all the way down to introductory adventures) had low-level threats that could kill a character at any time. While throwing unavoidable death traps at the PCs is an exercise in poor GMing, creating avoidable death traps is perfectly reasonable, as long as players and GM agree that the lethality level is going to be higher in the game.

Instant Death

Even if you choose to use save-or-die traps, be they poisons or other forms of traps, think carefully before using instantaneous save-or-die effects. It is one thing to have life or death hang in the balance of a single die roll, and yet another to have essentially no time to react or respond. Instant death is also not entirely realistic, despite the impression one might get from Hollywood movies. The most deadly poisons must circulate through the body and may take up a minute to kill, and even a beheaded creature requires a matter of seconds before death (however inevitable) is final.

Deadly Trap Effects

A mythic trap can add one or more of the following effects. A trap must deal hit point damage or Constitution damage to have these effects, and creatures immune to critical hits or immune to death from massive damage are immune to these trap effects.

Deadly (+4 CR)

In addition to the trap’s normal effects, a creature failing its saving throw by 5 or more is reduced to -1 hit points and becomes unconscious and dying. A creature failing its saving throw against a trap by 10 or more is instantly killed.

Fatal (+3 CR)

If your trap rolls a natural 20 on its attack roll and then confirms a critical hit, the target of the trap is instantly killed, regardless of its hit points. If the trap requires a saving throw and the target rolls a natural 1 on its saving throw, the target must attempt a Fortitude save against the same DC; if this save fails the target is instantly killed, regardless of its hit points.

Lethal (+6 CR)

A creature that fails its saving throw against a mythic trap must make an additional Fortitude save against the same save DC. If your trap confirms a critical hit against a creature, the target must succeed on a Fortitude save against a DC equal to your mythic tier plus the trap’s attack bonus. If the save fails, the creature falls unconscious and is dying, with a negative hit point total equal to the difference between its save result and the save DC (or twice the difference, for a non-mythic creature).

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