This review starts with a gamer admission as well as a disclosure, and the gawds of the many faced dice, demand my confession. First, I have a long-standing and serious love/hate relationship in regards to dungeon trap manuals and RPG trap rules/guidelines. This is the first section of any new dungeon fantasy RPG I go to. “A rock falls everyone dies,” is my DM mantra.
Also, I write RPG reviews on a monthly schedule and contribute the occasional article, for Kenzer & Co.’s, Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) magazine. The Deadly Trappings in this volume published before I’d written anything with KoDT. I don’t’ think it will cause bias in the review, but I’m mentioning it.
Deadly Trappings is a collection of seventy-seven system neutral traps. Most are designed for use in a dungeon, but there are a couple of oddities (a spaceship trap & and a guy in a cowboy hat, triggering a western genre, bear trap). Each trap receives two or three panels of illustration and at minimum one half, to three-quarters of a page description. Text size varies for each, but most trap descriptions are between 300-500 words. The traps are same format of those published monthly in KoDT. Presumably, this book is a collection of the best of those traps, which (originally published 2009) were written before 2010.
The reader immediately gets acquainted with Joe Cocksure, Deadly Trapping’s proverbial “faces of death” test monkey. Joe is the featured character of the graphic illustrations of the traps. Also, Joe dies a lot.
The writing of each trap is remarkably consistent given they are authored by about thirty individual contributors. While all of these traps are indeed system-neutral, most include a short blurb about the history of the device as well as its mechanics (systemless crunch); and/or information about the NPC designer of the trap, and/or the motivation behind the design. The fluff elements create an interesting back story for each trap, something pretty uncommon with supplements such as this, when mechanics are usually the sole focus.
I understand that for some, the most important thing about a trap manual is directly related to how many of these traps the DM/GM might actually use. While others like to use manuals such as this to craft their own ideas. Deadly Trappings should have either camp covered, but the bottom line is, I don’t know your game. And dungeon crawl to dungeon crawl, I’ve seen very different ideas on the “proper way” to utilize traps.
The most useful solution I can think of is giving a baseline description as to the sort of traps featured with Deadly Trappings. I’ve collated a ten point bullet list for consideration. Needless to say, but some of these concepts overlap each other:
- Magic Traps: 21
- Step on it, Trigger: 25
- Total Party Kill (TPK); Or Traps which Feature this Potential: 14
- Traps which De-limb or Maim: 8
- Death by Rock or Stone: 9
- Death by Falling: 16
- Death by Fire: 6
- Death by Asphyxiation: 5
- Death by Poison/Toxin or Acid: 9
- Traps you’d be unlikely to use with Your Favorite Edition of D&D: 3
In conclusion, Deadly Trappings has a respectable mix of traps. I have the perfect bound print edition which weighs in at 80 pages as well as (though I can’t find my old hard drive) the PDF. Whether you’re a fellow trapmatician or just a DM in need of some good trap material I don’t think you can go wrong here. But then again, that’s likely the last thought through my player characters minds before… “A rock falls, every one dies.”
If your players deserve to have a little fear put back into their lives, then you can find Deadly Trappings here for $9.99.