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I guess this is a general 4e question, but I'm running a GW campaign atm. My question is how do traps work out of initiative, specifically, what danger is there to traps when my players can heal with 5min rests after each trap they trigger? I guess I'm looking for ideas on how to make traps more active in the groups exploration without throwing them into encounters to do so.


A buddy of mine wants to Co-GM a GW campaign with me.  He had similar concerns.  He wants to come up with some sort of Dragon Age style system where you sustain injuries.  The injuries will have some sort of penlaty associated depending on what part of the body is affected.  You would need to have an injury kit or the like to heal, probably after an extended rest.  An injury could come from dropping below 0 HP or via a trap.

Another idea would be to resolve it as a skill challenge.

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Yeah, I have one room built atm as a laser grid skill challenge. But it still escapes me how failing can be meaningfully damaging in terms of hp loss out of an encounter.  >.<

I thought about a 'chase the enemy' scenario to keep them in initiative while out of combat itself but eh, it's a bad fix.

Programed Laser Turret (Elite)
Level 3 Elite Blaster
XP 300

Four armored laser turrets drop from the ceiling at the edge of the room.  Each round they pepper the area with quarrels.

Four lasers attack each round on their initiative after they are triggered.


  • DC 22: The character notices the trigger plates.

  • DC 27: The character notices the location of the turrets.

  • DC 27: The character notices the location of the hidden control panel.


The trap activates and rolls initiative when a character enters one of the four trigger squares in the room.


Initiative +3
Standard Action
Ranged 10


Each laser attacks one intruder.  Its program distinguishes intruders from the natives of the facility.
Attack: +8 vs. AC
Hit: 2d8 + 3 damage


  1. Athletics DC 6 or Athletics (without a running start) DC 11:  A character that makes a successful check can jump over a single pressure plate square.

  2. Thievery DC 27: An adjacent character can disable a trigger plate with a successful check.

  3. Attacking a trigger plate (AC 12, other defenses 10) only triggers the trap.

  4. A character can attack a turret (AC 16, other defenses 13; hp 38).  Destroying a turret stops its attacks.

  5. Thievery DC 22: A character can engage in a skill challenge to deactivate the control panel.  Complexity 2 (6 successes before 3 failures).  Success disables the trap.  Failure causes the control panel to explode (close blast 3, 2d6 + 3 damage to all creatures in blast) and the trap remains active. 

Modified Magic Crossbow Turret from the DMG, any of the can be modified to read laser just change fluff.  All the traps have an initiative listed.

To do more damage to PC

  1. Increase target DC

  2. Increase the level by 2 (just like monsters)

  3. Allow the trap to attack on any failed countermeasure (including the skill challenge)

  4. Healing Surges are the bane of DM’s, but remember the trap is an encounter too; no short rest until it is over.

    1. If the characters retreat (failed) allow them to take a rest, but send guardian monster to before they have taken advantage of it

                                                               i.      The monster could be the equal of the trap

                                                             ii.      It could be the next encounter

                        2.   The monster will have had no need to deactivate the trap, but could have

Thanks, morandir62, I'll probably use those.

What I was thinking more about though, was how does a dungeon crawl become increasingly dangerous in terms of the number of traps triggered in the entire course of exploring an area as opposed to scaling traps to be more dangerous each time they are encountered/solved/heal/next room. It seems a 'dungeon' can only be as meaningfully dangerous as the last time you healed after an encounter?.

Maybe I'll link activating a trap to a 'you now activated a security complex counter measures' with a few safe rooms where healing can be used if they find them. Which should help in controlling the healing spam.

I've had similar thoughts.  I'm not really a big fan of traps in general, but all kinds of weird environmental hazards could fit nicely into Gamma World, and it seems kind of unfortunate that they can only really "matter" in the middle of a fight.

Still, I like the fact that encounter-to-encounter hit point attrition isn't a factor in GW.  So maybe there are other penalties traps and hazards could inflict?

The first thing that comes to mind would be injuries that deny or reduce your second wind in the next encounter (or all encounters for the rest of the day?).  Of course, that's not much different from a hit point penalty.

Another idea would be small ongoing penalties, like a -1 to attack, to all defenses or just a specific one, to saving throws, to speed, to initiative.  Things that wouldn't ruin you for the next fight, but would remind you that you'd been injured.

Loss of resources is a possibility, too, but a really situational one.  "You fell in the river, and your powder got wet.  You're out of ammo."  "One of your possessions was lost or destroyed in the landslide.  You get to decide which one."

I think this kind of thing could make for pretty decent skill challenge failure effects, too. 
You could incorporate traps as part of a combat encounter. Then the hit point damage they deal WILL matter. If the PCs are clever, they might be able to use these traps against their opponents.
You could incorporate traps as part of a combat encounter. Then the hit point damage they deal WILL matter. If the PCs are clever, they might be able to use these traps against their opponents.

I think the whole point of this thread was to find ways to make traps matter without limiting them to combat encounters.
I was wondering the same thing, since I hope to run a GW campaign once our current D&D story arc is finished.
I think a failed trap could mean the loss of an important clue to solve the adventure, perhaps the death of NPC's the characters are trying to rescue or escort. Destruction of an Omega Tech item, or an unwanted Alpha Flux could result depending on the trap. Also a trap could teleport, capture or incapacitate a PC, requiring rescue or the discovery of an antidote.
Of course, all this could lead to the ever popular "Intruder Alert" condition, surrendering initiative and losing surprise.
I like the notion of the unwanted Alpha Flux, giving the failing player a particular mutation card to start the next encounter, especially if the readied card is a favorite. "Upon emerging from the pit of ooze, you now have Stink Glands"
You can probably simulate the danger by bringing back healing surges.

Healing using second wind and during short rests works as normal with one change, each time you heal without an extended rest uses up one of your healing surges.

You could probably give everyone a number of healing surges equal to 5 + their Constitution modifier and possibly their level.

Thus, the longer they spend running around without stopping for 8 hours of rest, the closer to dying they get.

Just a thought.
There is also no reason a trap effect needs to be "save ends".
An infection, or a blindness condition that must have an antidote to administer.
This would provide a nice hook for the adventure to continue
Thanks everyone. Some useful ideas in there.
I like Zero's idea. I'll need to try out those trap rules next time my group plays.
What if you had the traps produce injuries that could only be reduced if you make a science check to heal, but those science check get reduced (sometimes by a lot) by certain pieces of ancient junk? Then it makes ancient junk more relevant, as players will be looking throw all the junk they've collected to see if there's anything that can help them get rid of their latest injury.
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