Trapsmith: Jerky Stake and Seeing Stars Traps

Posted In Articles, Front Page, Traps | 6 comments

Gavin chewed thoughtfully on some exquisite squirrel jerky as he monitored the bounty hunters’ approach. They clearly knew his reputation because they were moving slowly and methodically checking their surroundings for hidden surprises. Yes, they knew who and what he was. This was going to be fun.

Taking off his right boot, Gavin collected his sock and, with his knife, cut off a length of rope. He dismantled his morningstar, taking the head and whittling a sharp point on the haft. With some regret he laid aside some of the jerky.

Expectations are there to be met. When they expect a trap, you give them a trap. But the rule of misdirection always applies, so give them a trap they expect and one they might not. Putting some jerky on a sharp pole creates the jerky stake. Touching the jerky launches the stake upward, which is very nasty against animal and vermin heads, but greedy hands can suffer as well. The seeing stars trap targets two-legged vermin. You dig a hole and use the sock to vertically launch the morningstar head, hopefully hitting something tender. To the rope, you attach a hefty stone, which swings down upon the distressed target.

Jerky Stake Trap     CR 1

Type mechanical; Perception DC 15; Disable Device DC 20

Trigger touch; Reset none

Effect Stake (+15 melee, 3d6 damage)

Seeing Stars Trap     CR 5

Type mechanical; Perception DC 28; Disable Device DC 20

Trigger location; Reset none

Effect Star Strike (+10 ranged touch, 1d6+3 damage and the target must succeed on a DC 15 Fortitude save or become nauseated for 1d4+2 rounds)

Effect Stone Strike (+10 ranged touch, 1d6+3 damage and the target must succeed on a DC 15 Fortitude save or become stunned for 1d4+2 rounds)

Next Installment

What can Gavin do with a shard from a mirror, a kobold’s tail, the inner workings of a cuckoo clock, and a mortar with pestle.

The Challenge

Name four adventuring items and receive a murderous trap in return.

(This post is Product Identity.)


  1. surgeon’s tools, a stuffed animal, a potion of healing and a bed sheet


    December 5, 2012

  2. Thank you for the suggested items, I like them.


    December 5, 2012

  3. I had a hard time understanding this entry. The setup was great, the mechanics of the trap were great, but he stuff in the middle? That was where i had a problem. Could you possibly add a bit from the victim’s point of view? What do they see? What makes then hit/trigger the trap? What happens when the trap is triggered? I guess i would like to see more of the fluff. The crunch level is perfect, but as a a GM i need to know what the PCs perceive to run a trap.


    December 5, 2012

  4. Catdragon,

    Slightly confused about your comments. From the text you could gather:

    Jerky Stake Trap
    The PCs perceive: some jerky on a sharp pole
    Trigger: Touching the jerky launches the stake upward

    Seeing Stars Trap
    The PC perceive: nothing, due to very high Perception DC, but if they beat that they could see the contours of a depression / hole.
    Trigger: stepping in the trap’s square.
    Effect: vertically launched the morningstar head hits you between the legs, then a stone swings down on you.

    Hope that helps, I think I usually add all the required visual information in the fluff and crunch but maybe the trap format needs an update.


    December 5, 2012

  5. That was perfect! thanks for your response.

    As for what i’m looking for, that was almost exactly right. For another example, suppose you had a vase with some sort of explosive darts coming from within. I would describe the vase, then if triggered, what happens. If a rogue examines the trap, I try to give details so the player can figure out what the trap does and how to disarm it.


    December 5, 2012

  6. That was a really enjoyable trap.

    So I was thinking about what Gavin might do with a varied selection of heavy books and scrolls, a crystal ball, a Decanter of Endless Water, and a long metal cord. Mages towers have the strangest things in them.

    Damian the Tiefling

    December 5, 2012

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