If you want to watch your players freak out, put a mundane obstacle in their way. A rickety bridge, a toll house, or even fording a simple river can all lead to some serious overthinking. By the same token, failure to overthink can result in plunging a hundred feet into crocodile infested waters. That’s why the best traps are cleverly hidden.

As an evil GM, I don’t get my jollies by blowing up my players with a fireball trap or sending animated statues at them. Any player who knows his d20 from his elbow is going to spot the scorch marks on the wall or the notches on the statue’s sword.  More often than not they’ll quaff their fireball resistance potion or charge the statue before it’s got a chance to animate, ruining your evil plan. So no. Throwing “the classics” at my players only goes so far. Where I really get my evil GM jollies is watching their expressions when they realize, Oh no…it’s a trap! The moment when their foot hits the pressure plate, or the tripwire, or the trapdoor…that’s the moment I’m after. They should have seen the signs, they charged headlong anyway, and now they know that it’s going to hurt. Examples:

  • That “passageway” overhead is actually a vacuum tube. It’s going to suck one of the heroes through and into danger du jour.
  • The scout went into the hallway, the doors slammed, and now she’s disappeared. Teleportation? No! The floor slammed her into the camouflaged goo that makes up the ceiling. Good luck finding her before she drowns overhead.
  • That dead worm you’ve been using as a bridge? It’s been replaced by a live worm. Roll initiative.
  • Grimtooth.